There’s a t-shirt I saw once that read, “Running - Embrace the Suck.” Being a runner I laughed because, well, sometimes running does indeed suck! Whether because of simple inertia or more complicated motives, we humans are more given to sedentary lives than active ones. Activity takes effort and can be uncomfortable, while sitting on the couch can be done with little output at all, mental or physical.

But like so many things, this all works in a cycle. We’re told over and over that exercise is good for us. Physical fitness improves our lives through increased energy, weight loss, and longevity. And studies abound that prove - not just suggest - that exercise improves our mental well-being as well. When we start to feel good physically, we start to also feel good mentally. And when we feel good mentally we’re more likely to try new activities, feeling even more fit and energetic! We finally want to be good to ourselves. But how do we start?

The challenge is that without a positive attitude we are less likely to continue with an exercise plan, but positivity is hard to come by when you’re gasping with every step. By the same token, exercise helps produce a positive mental attitude, that same mindset that makes continued exercise more likely.

The Problem:

Exercise and a positive attitude are great methods to continue on a road to fitness, but neither provides an onramp.

The Solution:

A tried and tested approach is to establish a health plan with your doctor or a trusted physical trainer. These people have the knowledge to help you develop a plan that isn’t going to deter you by being too difficult, but will keep challenging you as you progress. There’s no need to sprint through every workout, but you don’t want to saunter either. A healthcare professional can help by monitoring your progress and altering the plan as necessary.

So often we want to get fit and jump from the couch into a pair of running shoes, and then we suffer and stop. Fitness, both mental and physical, takes time and patience. It makes a lot more sense to begin exercising with a gentler approach than it does to rush yourself to a point where you start thinking, “Ya, this does suck!”

Authored by: Kevin Dyck

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