24 August 2011

The Reluctant Exerciser

Earlier this summer, I paid a visit to my neurologist for a check-up. Here's roughly how it went:

Dr.: How much are you working out?
Me: Um, never?
Dr.: WHAT?! DON'T YOU KNOW YOU MUST WORK OUT?!

What then followed was a 15-minute harangue about how I have to work out, how it's so beneficial for helping my "condition" (which, I must point out, they can't decide if I have or not), and how it could keep me from ever noticing the "condition" (that I just might not have).

So I did what anyone in my situation would do...

Me: Okay, I will definitely decide on which gym to join and join today.

This was, clearly, a boldfaced lie, though I did contemplating joining a gym. The problem? I like working out about as much as I like washing the dishes or ironing, which is to say, not at all. I am not motivated. I love my sofa. And all the grading my job requires takes up a considerable amount of my not-at-work time. This adds up to someone who does.not.work.out. Ever.

I am a fairly athletic person; I was a three-season athelete in high school. But it was easier then; there was a coach to tell you what to do and people to do it with you. Left to my own devices, though, I am not motivated to work out on my own.

However, my doctor, admittedly, is right. I need to work out. I need the benefits of the stress relief and the happy endorphins. Elle Woods knows what I mean. So I have spent this summer exploring workout options.

My Old Standbys:

Walking? Okay, but I won't go by myself
Running? My knees and ankles are too old for it ;)
Yoga? I love it....but it's too much for my carple tunnel-y wrists to take
Mountain Biking? Well, I'm a little clumsy...


In an effort to be a Good Patient, this summer I picked two sports to try: horseback riding and rowing (sculling). The verdict? I love them both, but especially rowing. Why? Well, first, it's outside and on the water, two things I love. Second, it's a repetitive motion, which means that once you get the hang of it, you don't have to think about it too much, and you can enjoy your surroundings. Third, the repetitive motion makes it meditative (just like some runners say running is meditative), and meditation = stress relief = good for Jess.

Horseback riding has a lot of these same qualities, minus the repetitive motion. And there's a lot more to think about when riding, because it's you and a hugely enormous animal with its own will. There's a lot more thought required for me in horseback riding, but at the same time, I really like the connection with the animal.

So, even though I'm a reluctant exerciser, I used my doctor's rant as an excuse to try two things I've always wanted to try, and it turns out that I like them both. It was all about swallowing my perfectionist pride to try something I knew I'd be bad at, but being okay with that because I wanted to try it. It turns out that I could even stick with both of them! The big test will be seeing what happens when school is in full swing...

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