Exercise: You Might Like It More Than You Think

One of Kyeli’s posts over on The Connection Revolution struck a chord with me. She wrote:

I view myself as someone who doesn’t exercise. I am someone for whom exercising sucks and is hard. I HATE exercising, in any form.

But I don’t hate it. I actually love most of it. And I need to rewrite the way I see myself, because I see myself as someone who hates it – but that’s old, that’s stale, that’s cached information. That’s not me anymore. The me that I am today, right now, in this moment – that me is who I am – and that me loves exercising.

(Kyeli Smith, I Hate Exercise (Or Do I?), The Connection Revolution)

Like Kyeli, I hated – almost dreaded – gym class in school. I was a chubby, unfit teenager, and I felt really self-conscious about my body. I’ve never been tall, or especially co-ordinated.

I still remember one particularly crap day when I was fifteen and we were made to do hurdles. Just looking at me, you could see I wasn’t built for hurdling. After falling over every single bloody hurdle (cue hysterical laughter from my classmates), I ended up standing on the sidelines in tears.

So, by the time I got to sixteen and there were no more gym classes, I didn’t see any reason to take up exercise. I cycled to school and back – all of a ten minute journey – and that was it. I saw myself like Kyeli did, “someone for whom exercising sucks and is hard”. I thought I hated it.

How I Began To Love Exercise

Slowly, my attitude to exercise changed. When I was eighteen, I got interested in healthy eating and lost around 40lbs. I went to university, and joined the free college gym which (at the time) consisted of a couple of rowing machines.

Gradually, what started as an attempt to maintain my weight loss ended up with (to my surprise) me actually enjoying exercise. I kept up the gym habit, on and off, for several years. When we moved to Oxford in June this year, I bought a cross-trainer – my favourite cardio machine – to use at home.

Even now, I sometimes forget that I enjoy exercising. Or I forget that it’s important, especially when I’ve got a lot of work to get done. But almost every single time I jump on the cross-trainer, I not only feel physically better – with more energy and less tension in my back and shoulders – I also feel happier and calmer.

Ideas come to me when I’m exercising (last week, I came up with a great idea for a blog post). I find that, in general, I’m more productive when I’m active regularly. I might have slightly less time to work, but I get more quality work done.

I’m still not especially well co-ordinated. And I’m never going to be an athlete or a fitness nut – it’s not that big a part of my life. But I genuinely enjoy working off some physical energy.

Paul and I are planning a short trip for next April, walking another part of the Thames Path (we’ve already done two sections). Ten years ago, I thought I hated walking. Now, it’s one of my favourite activities.

Maybe, like me, you’ve “hated” exercise for a long time. Or maybe you think you’re just not the sort of person who exercises – you think you’re too short, too chubby, too lazy, too uncoordinated. I’d urge you to try out a few different types of activity – anything that you think could possibly be fun for you. Because, you just might love it – and you’ll almost certainly see a boost in your energy, productivity and happiness.

(Image from Flickr by Jill Clardy)

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