The Sustainable Struggle: Enjoying Exercise

by Joshua Danker-Dake

The benefits of exercise are well documented: weight control, increased energy, better health, improved mood, and so on. But you’re a smart person; you don’t need me to tell you that exercise is good, or that you should be doing it regularly.

It’s easy to say, “I don’t have time to exercise.” But usually, what we’re really saying is, “I don’t enjoy exercise as I envision it in my mind.” The simple fact is, we make time to do the things we enjoy, and we find all kinds of ways to avoid doing the things we don’t.

You’ve probably heard the old cliché that the best exercise is the one you actually do. Conversely, if you don’t enjoy the exercise you’re supposed to be doing, odds are you’re not going to stick with it.

I think we’d all agree that one of the best exercises around is running. It burns lots of calories, it does wonders for your cardiovascular health, and it’s got lots of other benefits. You don’t need a bunch of equipment to run, and you can do it anywhere.

Now if you’re expecting me to tell you to suck it up and start running, rest easy. I ain’t gonna. I hate running.

I ran track my first year of high school, and I didn’t really enjoy it. It was just… too much running. I switched to baseball after that, and I was much happier, because I love baseball. We still did a ton of running every day, but it was fine, because it was incidental to practice, supplementary to a larger purpose.

If you love running, God bless you, and carry on. I personally find running incredibly boring. I sweat profusely. My feet ache. Every minute feels like five. I recognize and avow that running is good, right, and salutary, but for me, it is the quintessence of drudgery.

So I don’t do it. I’ve never stuck with a running program for more than three or four weeks because every time, just getting out the door is a battle. That’s not a recipe for a sustainable lifestyle.

There are other exercises I’ve done plenty of that I tolerate: cycling, the elliptical machine, bootcamp-style high-intensity interval training. But I don’t love any of them. I don’t look forward to any of them.

But I’ve found one exercise that I do love: weight training.

I truly, honestly do. I love everything about it: the struggle against the weight, the focus required, the feeling of power, the muscle burn, the next-day soreness that tells me I did well. I look forward to lifting (well, except for leg day), and I enjoy it while I’m doing it.

So I don’t bother with cardio anymore; I just lift. And my relationship with exercise is a lot healthier as a result.

But great as it is, I’m not pushing weight training on you any more than I am running. My point is this: from cycling to calisthenics to cardio machines to individual sports like tennis and racquetball to team sports like basketball, soccer, and softball to plain old walking, there innumerable ways to exercise, either alone or with friends. Odds are, there’s some activity out there you wouldn’t mind trying, something you’d enjoy, something you’d make time for and look forward to.

I encourage you to seek it.

Read more from Josh and the sustainable struggle series here and here.

Joshua Danker-Dake is the author of the acclaimed comic novel The Retail. A writer and editor by trade, he also serves as the Strategy and Tactics Editor for Diplomacy World, the flagship publication of the Diplomacy hobby. Beyond health and fitness, other things he gets rather excited about include He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, bombastic European power metal, and St. Louis Cardinals baseball.

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1 Comment on The Sustainable Struggle: Enjoying Exercise

  1. Nice article! The Trainer

    Like

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