People often focus solely on one method of exercise: lifting weights, running, cross-fit, swimming, yoga—the list goes on and on. There are a lot of ways to exercise, goals to chase, programs to follow and diets to try, but if you are limiting yourself to one mode of training, you’re missing out on the benefits of other forms of movement.
Sure, if you are an aspiring athlete, or training for a specific sport, it is important to develop a strategy to become the best in that area. However, for those simply trying to get in shape, exercise should be about more than one physical goal. Working out is about movement, health, happiness, meditation, progression and strength. Movement can’t be narrowed down to one sole benefit or reason behind it. For every facet of training, there are a hundred benefits to be had — some mental, some physical and some emotional. In fact, most of those benefits have nothing to do with working out at all but rather effect your daily life.
It’s very easy to get stuck in one mode of working out, especially if you’ve done it for a long time and it’s all you know, but it’s important to diversify your movement and test the limits of your strength, flexibility, endurance and discipline. You’ll quickly find areas that need improvement, as well as the similarities across different types of training.
I do not believe that anyone can make these discoveries for you, nor can you read about them in a magazine or on a website. The beauty of doing something on your own is that you find your own reasons for doing it. Maybe you lift weights because of the feeling you get when your muscles get tight with a pump, or you run outside because the quietness of nature helps you clear your head. Maybe you have completely different reasons that drive you. The only way to find out is to experiment.
Find what you enjoy and take notice of all the benefits you’re getting from it. Pay attention to the benefits you can feel, not just the ones that you’re supposed to get. Benefits like lowering your blood pressure or strengthening your bones, while very important, are not things you will feel immediately. One of the biggest reasons that motivation begins to falter is the lack of fast, tangible results.
Focus instead on the feelings you get from exercising and moving. Move both quickly and slowly, breathe deeply and gasp for breath, sprint and walk, lift heavy and light weight. Notice the differences between different modes of movement and what you feel from each.
As I said before, there are many ways of exercising to choose from; none are right or wrong, and as a whole, all of them, when done correctly, share many of the exact same benefits. Follow your own path, not the path that everyone else tells you to. When you take the road less traveled, often you’ll find treasures that are unknown to everyone else.
Richard Saad is a personal trainer and can be reached at 864.907.0214.