What do you love doing? Finding your physical activity passion is much like reading – what do you like to read? Once you find that thing that you’ll love doing (or maybe just not hate doing), you’re more likely to be consistent with it. And consistency is key!
The Benefits Of Exercise
A Mayo Clinic article cited DHHS recommendations for incorporating aerobic activity. They recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week. It is also recommended that we incorporate strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. This equates to about 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. The benefits of exercise are many: cardiovascular conditioning, lower blood pressure, muscular strength, good bone density, balance, coordination, flexibility, and positive effects on mental health (ADHD, depression, anxiety, stress).
Growing Up Active
We all have different relationships with physical activity, be it exercise or sports. Many of those relationships began in childhood. I grew up in the Georgia Public School system and had PE every day until High School, when it was cut down to 50% of the four years. This is where I learned that I was a sprinter, good at gymnastics, and eventually dance.
A quick search revealed that 27% of high school students are physically active for 60 minutes a day. Currently, only 3.7% of K-12 schools require daily physical education. As a country, our kids are not developing physical activity habits or fostering healthy habits and relationships with exercise. For many of us, this is where it all started.
You learned what you were good at and what you enjoyed, and it likely carried over into your adult life. This curiosity as an adult also leads us to try new things. The exercise or sport(s) that you enjoy has become your Thing. And sometimes that Thing changes, especially as we age or deal with injuries or physical limitations.
That Thing You Do
It’s also possible that these early experiences were negative, have colored your view of exercise, and have also carried over into your life. Your Thing may be doing Nothing. If that’s the case, check out our other blog posts on starting an exercise program.
So – what is your Thing? Exercise passions run the gamut. For some people, walking is their primary form of exercise. For some, it’s yoga, kickboxing, or swimming. Recent fitness trends have moved more towards group fitness classes: rowing, boxing, circuit training, and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) classes, like Orange Theory and Crossfit. Interested in getting outdoors to blow off some steam? Then obstacle courses like Tough Mudder and Spartan Race are likely to get you motivated and keep you interested. Looking for something more social? Ballroom and other dance forms provide a fun social outlet while burning calories and moving your body.
When You Can’t Do Your Thing
Now that you’ve found that activity that you just can’t live without, what happens when you sustain an injury? Whether your injury is due to your sport, or some other exercise, it’s important to take a step back and have an objective look at the entire picture.
How does your neck pain affect your running? Is it ok to swim, even though you have back pain? Is shoulder pain keeping you from lifting weights in your CrossFit class? Is knee pain limiting your squats in the gym? Can hip pain really stop you from going to a spin class?
Working with an orthopedist or a physical therapist, you can assess the severity of the injury, as well as your ability to participate in physical activity. In some instances, it may be possible and even advantageous to continue moving, but with modifications. In other scenarios, it may be necessary to stop all activity to allow for proper healing and rehabilitation.
It’s important to allow yourself time to recover, so that you may return to the sport or activity that you enjoy doing. It’s quite possible that, in the process of rehabilitation, you learn something new about your body or your sport. What’s better than coming back better, stronger, and wiser?
Let’s get moving!
Mark M Lusk, DPT, OCS, CFMT