Not long ago I can remember that people used to think I was in pretty good shape because I ran about three miles a few times a week and occasionally did other fun things like kayaking and rollerblading. At some point everything seemed to shift. Now it’s like if you aren’t pulling jeeps by a rope and flipping 300 pound tires, all of a sudden you’re not in shape? If you can’t handle a 45 minute HIIT routine or scale a 15 foot wall covered in mud, you might as well be playing sloth in your recliner.
It’s not that I’m against hard workouts. I think that they’re great if they are supervised by someone who will keep you safe. My other physical therapy friends and I have seen quite a few injuries from this type of program, however. There’s even the very occasional life-threatening issue of rhabdomyolysis where someone works so hard that their body goes into shock.
My concern is that if someone can’t handle this type of work out (or doesn’t want to try it) they may feel like there’s no hope for them to ever be in shape. They may feel discouraged and not even try to increase their physical activity.
When people ask me what their fitness goal should be, my first recommendation is to just move a little bit more than you do right now. For a lot of people a beneficial program could start with walking. For some people with joint pain, this might be walking in the pool. For many people a tai chi or yoga program may be the best fit. Others might benefit from a few sessions with a certified personal trainer to start them on a toning program.
There are so many fantastic, effective workout programs out there that I know that there is something for everyone. I want to encourage you to consider trying any exercise or movement that you might enjoy. For someone who is sedentary, a daily 10 minute walk can do absolute wonders for physical health and weight loss. When that becomes easy, try a little bit more. Or add something else. Just don’t give up because you can’t (or don’t want to) “clean and press” 100# bars. See you in yoga class. 😉