Health

How do I exercise? Tell me, please!

Please excuse any veering off into ranting, but I’m currently suffering from bafflement and irritation in equal measure. Why? Exercise, that’s why.

I am not a natural exerciser, nor a loyal one, but every now and then, the urge comes along to do something, and then, in my geeky fashion, I set about researching my options.

So here’s where all that has brought me:

I had to stop kickboxing because I kept aggravating my shoulder which has a tendency to dislocate. So that’s out.

Then there was running, which I was enjoying, and even completed the Great North Run, but ended in agony because I’d developed shin splints. So that’s out.

And because of the shin splints, I now have to be very careful about impact exercising, so that meant my second attempt at Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred ended in failure.

So then there was swimming. Which I still enjoy, greatly. But, I was getting into a bit of a rut, and finding that I was becoming bored, which I was very keen to avoid, as so far it’s the only form of exercise I can still do. So I thought, why not mix it up a bit?

I thought I could swim intensely for twenty minutes or so, and then spend another twenty minutes working on my legs, or my arms, or my abs in the gym, on their machines. But then I did some research on the gym machines, and at best, they appear to be fairly useless, and at worst, actually damaging.

Free weights, it would seem, are the way forward, but unless you’ve got your technique spot on, then the same applies – useless and damaging.

And then I came across tabata, which is (or was, it’s probably terribly passé by now) the new thing – where you exercise intensely for 20 seconds, rest for 10, and repeat for eight times. You complete one to four full sets of this (so 20 minutes in total) and apparently, this intense exercise gives you as good a result (arguably better) than an hour’s run.

I suppose I can get my head around that, but then you’ve got to work out which exercises to do in your bursts. Do you opt for cardio, such as burpees (shudder…and not great for shin splints) and jumping jacks (ditto)? Or do you throw in some leg action – squats and lunges – or some arm work – push ups and bicep curls – or ab work – bicycle crunches and toe touches? I imagine you’re meant to throw a bit of everything in there, but somehow, I feel poleaxed by the sheer choice out there. At least in the gym, you can go from one machine to the next, finish them all, and feel like you’re somehow complete. Or I can swim a mile, and feel like I’ve ticked a box.

So now I’m just confused. And not exercising.

My problem is I need structure, and even more importantly, I need to feel I’ve had an expert telling me what to do. So, tell me – keep swimming and swimming alone? Combine intense swimming with gym machines? Combine swimming with some sort of mastery of free weights at the gym? Designate swimming a pleasure activity (instead of ‘exercise’, which probably means I won’t bother at all…), and concentrate on at home tabata instead?

Sometimes, I get all doom and gloom that my body will just throw up another injury regardless of what I do or I convince myself that it doesn’t matter because I’ll get bored in a few months and give up anyway…

I find fitness blogs fascinating because these women (and men) genuinely seem to adore exercising, and they’re clearly experts in their fields – the passion just shines out of them – but I’ve yet to find what really works for me. I know exercise is really important for my physical health, and I also know it’s vital for my mental health, but I’m currently all at sea.

And don’t even get me started on healthy eating, and whether that really is more important than exercising in losing weight, which, to my mind, rather renders this whole rant moot…

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5 thoughts on “How do I exercise? Tell me, please!

  1. I’m hopeless at going to the gym, so I bought a stationary bike a while ago. To my surprise, I use it most days.

    It doesn’t take up much room and it makes makes hardly any noise, so you can use it day or night without bothering anyone or devoting much amount of your room to it. I got mine in Argos for about €150, I think, so they’re not heinously expensive, either.

    I feel like they’re a good intro for people who want to exercise more but have injuries or are lazy about getting out for a jog or to the gym or whatever. I hope you’re able to find something that works for you!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, it’s pretty good for calorie burning. You can sit and have a little gentle cycle while you’re watching telly, or you can do the full-on spinning routine, although my bike wobbles alarmingly when I try to go too fast, so I don’t do that so much. (That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!)

        I haven’t noticed any bulking, but I don’t measure my legs that often! Trousers fit better rather than worse from it, though, so it can’t be too bad for me. I guess if it’s the only exercise you do, and you do it intensively, it might well have a bulking effect. Then again, I think most people who are going the indoor-bike-at-home route are probably not going to be extreme exercisers or they’d be doing something else already, so I doubt it most people would encounter that problem.

        If you were to combine it with something like yoga or pilates (even the at-home videos), my guess is you would be fine, but I’m clearly not an exercise expert. Not that it matters, though– the experts themselves can’t even agree on much…

        Liked by 1 person

      • You’re right about the experts disagreeing. I so wish there was a definitive answer/strategy! Exercise bikes for the win then 👏👏👏 I’ve been thinking about pilates though too. I guess I just need to pick one thing and go with it.

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  2. There is no one strategy that is universally applicable, I think. A lot of it has to do with how much you’re enjoying what you’re doing, and then your own personal body chemistry and type comes into it, too. I tried Pilates at a stupid for a while, which I enjoyed… But the cold of the studio put me off, to be honest. (I suffer really badly from the cold– only me and my mother seemed to be having problems, though; nobody else seemed at all bothered.)

    I’ve also tried it at home, and that went a lot better, but most of the time I just do light free weights and old ballet exercises I remember from when I was small. It is a bit of a pain in the bum (like exercise itself!), but you just have to figure out what works for you. ❤

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