As a kid, I hated all forms of exercise. At school I could be relied upon to have a note excusing me from anything that might cause a bead of perspiration to get squeezed from my brow.

I clung to my exertion aversion like a badge of honor through my teens and most of my twenties. Exercise celibacy was my way of life and it suited me.

But then in my thirties, things changed. I wanted more. That is, I wanted more calories burned to offset my slowing metabolism.

I flirted with various forms of working out, but I was half-hearted and uncommitted and sadly, the dalliances never went anywhere.

Then in my late thirties, exercise and I re-discovered each other and, in a tender moment of sweat, in a softly lit group-exercise studio, we consummated our relationship. Love bloomed.

If you loathe exercise and can’t imagine a future when you could possibly like jumping around and getting out of breath, then I hope you’ll take comfort from my story. Because now, in my (geez, really? already?) mid-forties, I exercise 5 or 6 times most weeks.

Exercise and I are in a long-term relationship.

And, most disturbingly to my younger self, I like it.

This is the weird thing that happens with exercise. Once you find a form of movement that you don’t hate, and you push past the initial excuses, then you find yourself experiencing a kind of pleasure.

In fact, several kinds of pleasure:

  • If you go to a class or gym or exercise with a friend, then there’s friendship.
  • Your brain chemistry helps out with endorphins.
  • You get better at it, so you feel more confident.
  • You start to get fitter, more flexible, more toned, so you like your body more.
  • You  begin to lose weight, so there’s positive reinforcement for doing your exercise.

The thing is, it’s really only awful for a while. Sure, the first few times can be awkward and sweaty and there are limbs in strange places. We’ve all been there. But it gets better.

The tricks are:

  1. Choose a form of exercise that fits your personality and preferences – a ‘you-friendly exercise‘. This will greatly increase the chances that you’ll be compatible and will stay together for the long term.
  2. Be prepared to compromise. Let exercise have its way with you even when you’re not in the mood. Be there for exercise. It will foster long-term harmony.

If you’ve been exercise celibate, or a wantan workout flirt, and have lately begun longing for something more lasting, then perhaps it’s time to give exercise another look. The two of you were meant to be together.

[Image by andrewmalone]