There’s a lot of people out there that get stressed out when they think of “exercise”. I used to be guilty of this. I'd picture hours of miserable sweating.
I'd picture all of the activities I despise.
I consciously remind myself of all the ways in which I choose to stay active, the things I do that I actually enjoy doing.
Exercise shouldn’t be stressful, it shouldn’t be dreaded. It should be something done for health instead of looks.
So, I’m here to share my favorite ways to stay active, and I challenge you to make a list of your own.
— riding my bike —
This is something I do nearly every day. My Bianchi is my "car", my main mode of transportation to and from places. Whether it’s 10 blocks away to the coffee shop, or 10 miles across town, I like to challenge myself to push hard when biking longer distances.
— long boarding —
This has been a recent addition to my collection this summer. I use it for short commutes around downtown, and every now and then I’ll take it out on a longer ride just to improve my skills. And long boarding is a great way to get a similar sensation to surfing and snowboarding.
— walking places —
It’s simple, and a perk of living downtown. There’s so much within such a short distance. And even if there’s no destination in mind, going for a walk is a good way to clear your mind, have a chat with a friend, or help digest a particularly heavy meal.
— rock climbing —
I would do it every day if I could. I love the challenge, I love the risk, and I love the feeling of learning a new skill. The rock climbing gym is 20 minutes away (1.5 hours on bike) so I don’t get to go there too often. But it’s a great idea for a friends date.
— paddle boarding —
This is another once in a while activity, but I always love it when I get to. I love the balance involved, I love the success that comes from getting confident enough to try, and nail, a triangle headstand while in the middle of a lake.
— yoga —
For me this one is more than “working out.” I do yoga more for the mental/emotional benefits, and see the physical benefits as an added bonus. There are a lot of people who don’t see yoga as a challenging workout, but let me tell you. I’ve had to go into child’s pose more than once because of quivering legs or arms. For a summer I did 6 am yoga every day, and I’ve never been more toned than I was then.
— weight lifting —
This is one that I always shied away from because I had this stereotype of meat heads who foamed at the mouth as they lifted things four times my body weight. And while these people exist, it's mostly just normal people lifting weights. I still get a little self conscious, but I love being able to watch the weight go up little by little, and feeling myself get stronger.
— hiking —
It can be a little tricky in Iowa, but there are a few gems around here that offer great hiking spots. I love being outside, in nature, and the changing scenery as you move along instead of the same wall you’ve been staring at for the past 30 minutes when you run on a treadmill.
— surfing —
Because I live in Iowa this happens quite rarely. I’ve actually only been surfing on three different trips in my life (San Diego, Tahiti and Encinitas). But I love being able to get over my slight fear of the ocean, and the feeling of finally catching a wave — few things can beat that.
— snowboarding —
Like surfing, this is one that I don’t get access to here in Iowa. But the time I’ve spent strapped onto a board edging down the side of a mountain was a painful, yet empowering experience. I went in thinking I would just be on my butt the entire time. And while I spent a lot of time sitting, and could barely push myself out of bed the next morning, being able to go for minutes at a time without falling was an amazing thing.
— climbing stairs —
All you need are stairs. I try to choose the stairs when possible, and I’ve gone to a Sunday Stairs group, where you go flight after flight of stairs, at your own pace of course. It’s simple, yet challenging.
— running —
When I lived with my parents I loved coming home from work and going for a run down the road with my dog, Bob. In the summer I enjoy running, but it’s currently too sweltering hot here in Iowa for running to be anything but miserable. I can’t, and won’t, run on a treadmill. I need to be outside and moving.
I’ll leave you with this thought — what I enjoy doing for exercise changes as often as the seasons. Don’t forget to switch it up as needed. Find something that you enjoy. Don't torture yourself with something you hate.