"I hate to exercise." How many times have I heard these words from patients and others? How many times have I said them myself? I hear them less frequently today, now that exercise has become stylish. City streets are filled with joggers and cyclists, people flock to spas and health clubs, and whole new classes of professionals have sprung up, such as exercise physiologists, sports medicine doctors, fitness advisers, and aerobics instructors, and personal trainers. Nevertheless, I still meet many people who think that exercise is only for athletes, and many others who go about exercise in ways more likely to lead to harm than to healthy living. I also hear and read a great deal of confusing, contradictory, and unhelpful information on this subject.
Let me say at the outset that I am a great believer in the benefits of sensible, moderate exercise for healthy living and healthy weight loss. I ask all people who come to me for medical consultations questions about their exercise habits, and I frequently urge them to make changes, usually in the direction of increasing the time they spend at physical activity. Such changes are indeed possible. The advice I give comes from my own experience as someone who hated exercise for much of his life and now does not feel right if a day goes by without some form of it. I have also been on the staff of a health spa, have talked with many fitness experts, and have had to deal with many medical casualties of exercise - injuries in people who exercised incorrectly.
But in fact some part of us resists, even hates the whole idea of exercise. It is our lazy self, the principle of inertia in us, that tells us we do not need to exercise or do not have time for it. The only way to deal with this voice is to pay no attention to it. If you listen to it, you are certain to sabotage your best efforts. Here is a practical tip: If you want to unlearn old habits and develop new healthy living habits, spend time with people who have the habits you want. Your choice of friends and acquaintances is a powerful influence on your behavior. If you want to change your eating habits, spend more time with people who eat healthy food. If you want to be a habitual exerciser, keep company with people who exercise regularly and enjoy it.
Read more articles and information on healthy exercise by browsing Dr. Weil's Exercise and Fitness section.