I have been having a recurring conversation with patients throughout the last several years, but more frequently during these difficult months that we’ve all been going through. Everyone generally agrees that exercise and activity are good for them and have the potential to improve their daily lives, but where do we find the time and energy? Understandably, everyone has felt extra demands on their time and energy, making it difficult to add even one more thing into the day.
When we first take up jogging, it’s difficult. Difficult to breathe, difficult to keep the pace, difficult to know when to stop and how far to go. When we first try to lift weights, it’s difficult. Difficult to remember all of the steps, all of the cues, and all of the rules to do it safely. To top it all off, with both of these activities there is the potential to do too much and end up more sore than when you started!
And when people are tired, the last thing they want to do is deplete their dwindling energy by lacing up the shoes or driving to the gym. “I would do it, if only I had the energy.”. Now this is an interesting concept. I’ve come to think of exercise much the same way that I look at savings and investments. Exercise, like savings, begins by making a decision that you want things to be better in the future. And like savings, it starts with an initial sacrifice to get the process started. It can be difficult or impossible to imagine where you’re going to find the money to add to your savings, just like it can be hard to imagine when you’re going to find the time or energy to exercise regularly. After a few deposits, the savings gets easier, most people don’t even notice what is skimmed off of their usual spending, it becomes nearly automatic if you stick with it. Exercise follows a similar curve. The initial investment is certainly difficult in terms of time and energy. Then you have to deal with the almost inevitable muscle soreness, or DOMS (See my previous blog post on the subject), but what you can get in return is very exciting.
Unfortunately, there’s no known way to skip the part where you have to do the hard stuff and get started. VERY fortunately, like savings, this gets easier and easier with repeated effort. This effect builds to the point that exercise actually starts giving energy and time back! There comes a time when the exercise invigorates and energizes a person. There comes a time when the body is capable of doing much more than just “Get through” the day. Some of the time that is lost when you run out of fuel is returned once the exercise habit is established. The exercise starts paying you back, but only after the initial period of investment.
Luckily, while savings can take months or years to really get going, exercise is more forgiving. On average, people need about 6-8 weeks of exercise to start to see the real fruits of their labours. It doesn’t that you can’t feel some improvements much sooner than that, but this seems to be the average time it takes to get over those initial hurdles and see the beginnings of the exercise dividends. And then it only goes up from there. Once the routine has been established and the exercise “money” starts rolling in, you can continue to invest and grow at a more rapid pace. Once you know how to run a 5km race, the 10km is just a matter of planning your training. Once you can lift 50 lbs, the next 10 lbs are right around the corner.
Much like savings, the best time to start was 20 years ago, but the next best time to start is today.
If you have any questions about exercise or about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, please feel free to contact our office. We would be more than happy to talk to you!
~ Trent, PT