Establishing short-term goals for long-term success
It has been reported by almost every media outlet that there are many benefits of exercise. The list is quite lengthy about these benefits. I have been in the physical education field most of my life and taught the various forms of exercise and the good results that can be attained by even a small amount of exercise. I tell friends that I must lead a very sheltered life since most of the people I associate with are usually in the area of physical education, weight lifting, running, or bike riding, with occasional swimming and sports thrown in for variety.
It is when I venture out into the “real world” and see other people outside of my sheltered environment. The number of obese people and unfit looking people seems to wake me up as to, “You need to get out more and see some other forms of life”. You begin to wonder why so many people are so out of shape and what health problems will they experience in a few short years down the road.
The reasons for not following an active lifestyle are varied – and too numerous – for every individual. It seems the number one reason from studies on why people do not follow an exercise program is the lack of time. People are busy with a job, a family, or think that they will start a program later.
The time excuse needs to be narrowed down to a priority of time. Is that TV program more important than your health, is the cost of belonging to a gym to expensive (versus the cost of medical bills from being unfit later on), or finding out how far out of shape you are and exercise is too hard and the sore muscles hurt.
People that are into fitness programs put exercise as a high priority and will find a time of day to work out. It might mean getting up an hour earlier in the morning, or taking part of a lunch break to go for a walk, or finding a flight of stairs at work and going up those stairs several time a day. It all comes down to where on the priority scale does an individual put fitness.
Exercise has been shown to be a preventive for certain diseases and helps a person be more active and energetic during the day, both at work and after work. The point to be made is that exercise is better at preventing a health problem than at curing a problem after it appears.
Too many people wait until they have a health problem and then think that they better start an exercise program. Depending on the health problem, it is often too late starting the exercise program now to do much good. Exercise is a better preventive than a cure for health.
One of the biggest factors about starting to exercise is that after years of being sedentary, probably overweight, or obese, and the muscles haven’t been used for much movement, makes exercise not much fun. And the pain that follows the next day reminds you of why you don’t exercise.
That first day of an exercise program is a cruel reminder of just how far you have let yourself slide into poor physical shape. A person starts to think is this really worth all this hard work and pain versus staying in their present out of shape lifestyle.
The person begins to look back at days when they were in high school and all the exercise they did with no problem. Now every little thing they do for exercise is so hard and takes so much effort. That ego of days past kicks in and the realization of how far gone they are, and how far down the road they have to go to get back to that previous fitness, they begin to wonder if it is worth it.
The answer, of course, is, “Yes, it is worth all this hard work”. The key is to not try to reach that younger age fitness level at this older (and sometimes not so much older) age. Hopefully, as you have gotten older, you have learned that patience is a virtue. The key is to start slow, set short easy accomplished goals, and schedule a set time each day aside to exercise. If you can find an equally out of shape partner to begin with you that is a big help. Misery loves company. Try to make the exercise program enjoyable. A walk down along the San Marcos River in the shade of the trees and great scenery is more enjoyable than a busy road with traffic. Parking a further distance away from your destination and walking a few more steps can be a start. Often you will find that walking that further distance from the first spot that is open is faster than driving around the parking lot hoping for a closer spot. A big plus to this is if you were shopping, return your shopping cart to the proper location.
Make your fitness goals at the beginning easy to accomplish. Success is a great motivator. As you achieve the first easy goals the next goal can be a little harder, but still an easy goal to reach. It just gets better each week and the well-being and self-esteem continues to grow. The key is to start and be patient. Make it a long term goal full of easily accomplished short term goals.