teapot1

teapot1

Monday, January 5, 2015


How to Be Happier, Step 3: Exercising

On January 2, I posted a list from the blog of psychologist Jeremy Dean of ten habits that science has shown make people happier. For the next ten days I’m posting individually on one of these actions/states of mind in hopes that we can all learn to make them habits.

Today’s topic is exercising.

 
Uh oh.

This is on a list of how to be happier—that doesn’t make me happy.

This is one thing I do not do well, at least not as well as I should.

Does anyone—other than my husband—really enjoy exercising?

Those who preach about exercising tell you to find an exercise you really enjoy. Really? The only exercise I really enjoy is turning the pages of a book.

Nevertheless, and surprisingly, I am better at it now than I was when I was younger. I remember even as a child that I couldn’t run very far without getting a stitch in my side. When I became an adult, and suddenly running (by adults) was all the rage, all I could think was, Are they nuts? What’s the point?

Now I do enjoy walking. When I was growing up my mother didn’t have a car or a driver’s license, so we would walk into town or take a bus to go longer distances. Now my husband’s and my favorite vacations are to great cities, where we can walk all over.

But running? Never gonna happen, I thought.

Until.

My husband is a runner. He competes in races. After we were married I began going to races with him as a spectator/cheerleader. He often ran with people he worked with, nice, intelligent people who didn’t seem crazy at all to me. In fact, they were enthusiastic and happy to be on the race course. Gradually I started to feel twinges of envy. What would it be like, I wondered, to be able to actually run three miles?

Then I decided to walk in a few races. Having enjoyed that, I started thinking, Hey, maybe I could run just a little bit. From one tree to another. To the stop sign on the corner.

That’s how it started. Just like they advise you to do. Start out slowly. Run for one minute. Then gradually increase your running time. Eventually I was able to complete a one-mile race, and later my first 5K—without walking! It was a thrill.

I am not by any means a good runner. I’m still slow. I don’t do it as regularly as I should. Especially in winter. Every spring I start all over, thinking that this year I’ll run several times every week. I’ll get in shape. I’ll do the ten-mile race in July. I’ve done that race exactly twice, and certainly not running all the way.

But I remember when I first began being able to run that three miles and the “runner’s high” I got. The feeling of yes, I can do this!

I still fight my own core of laziness. I still look for excuses when my husband asks if I want to go to the gym. (The very word gym reminds me of high school horrors in gym classes.) I prefer to say the Y—YMCA doesn’t have as many negative connotations for me. Sometimes I distract myself by putting on HGTV while I do the treadmill. Love It or List It has managed to keep me going for an hour.
 
I know I need to do more. Maybe sign up for a yoga class. Do weights or stretching at home. Lose that extra five to ten pounds that seemed to come up on me out of nowhere.

But this nonexerciser at least tries. Does it make me happier? Maybe. I know  there’s at least one part of every run that’s happy: when it’s over and I walk back in the door of my house, knowing I did it.
 
 

11 comments:

  1. There have been times in my life I really got into the gym and exercising, and I have to say, I did feel pretty great. I am sure you will find your way to wherever you are supposed to be when you are ready. Before then, it will likely feel too much like a chore. Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the encouragement, and Happy New Year to you, too!

      Delete
  2. This sums me up perfectly: "I still fight my own core of laziness." I am a walker. Nothing more (tried jogging and it was a no go). Of course I am a fair weather walker - so my time is coming. :) Thanks for the reminder!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amy, walking is excellent exercise--but I agree, it's way too cold now!

      Delete
  3. I've gone through times when exercising made me happy. Sadly, they're all too few! But now that Peter's getting back to normal after his hip surgery, we're both going to make an effort to start walking together so that we'll be in shape and ready to get out there and enjoy all there is on offer this spring and summer. And that will DEFINITELY make me happy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds like a great plan, Laurel!

      Delete
  4. This idea is absolutely perfect and inspiring.

    I have always wondered why we don't focus on what we did accomplish instead of that we didn't do. I have a friend that is 74 that is working on walking and running a little. She hopes to run 2 miles eventually.

    Barbara

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's wonderful about your friend, Barbara! They say it's never too late to start. We know a man in his 80s who still does races. His 80-year-old wife is a lot slower, but she does them, too! And you're right, we really should think more about what we've accomplished! Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  5. That is so awesome. I am not an exerciser but I do think that running looks so enticing. Glad to see how you worked your way up and maybe I can follow in your footsteps. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melody, give it a try! I'm sure I'll never be good at it, but it is stimulating and satisfying to go out to a race and just enjoy the whole atmosphere and culture and being outdoors. Even if you just walk--plenty of people do walk in road races! Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  6. Did you know that you can create short links with AdFly and get money for every visit to your short urls.

    ReplyDelete