Dr. Strasser's Wellness Tips

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The Zen Of Exercise: Exercise Without Trying

exerciseThe way to begin to exercise is to not to think too much about it. As soon as “ I must…” and “ I have to…” enter into the picture, you’re usually in trouble. For those of us who have trouble motivating ourselves to exercise–and incidentally that’s by far the majority of us–here are some tips on the Zen of Exercise, how to just do it, in the moment, now…

Start Small. If you set your exercise bar too high, you run the risk of getting discouraged and giving up. And you run the risk of injury! The body needs to build its exercise capacity slowly. Jumping into a strenuous intense exercise activity can cause injury and will sabotage “doing it”.

Know Who You Are. Don’t pick an exercise you know you aren’t going to like. If friends urge you to join them for a lunch-time run and you know you hate to run, then choose a different activity.

Enjoy Yourself! Sometimes at the beginning of an exercise program, there is a temptation to adopt a “no pain, no gain” attitude–and anyway, we think we deserve to suffer because we’ve been so bad and lazy. This Puritan phase, however, is short-lived. If there is not a significant element of enjoyment associated with exercise, you will usually find a way to abandon it.

Shhhh! It’s probably better to keep your brand new exercise regimen a secret, or if you do it with a friend, for both of you to take a vow of silence, at least until a routine is established. Even people who love us can unconsciously try to sabotage us as we try to initiate changes.

Don”t Be Intimidated. Another reason for a vow of silence when beginning to exercise is to ward off well-meaning, but unhelpful exercise fanatics. Some of us just can’t get enough exercise, and love to give advice about it, and sometimes even get carried away and over-exercise. As you try the first baby steps of a real long-term exercise routine, don’t be intimidated from your own approach by these exercise advisors.

Rain? What Rain? Rain and rotten weather is not an excuse not to exercise, because obviously in Portland if it was, we wouldn’t exercise for most of the year. In the fall, throw on the rain gear and forge ahead. It only looks impossible.

Remember The Three Weeks Rule. Researchers seem to have found a rule of thumb regarding building new habits: it takes three weeks to really set a habit in motion. So if you begin your simple exercise routine, keep doing it for three weeks. The goal of any exercise program is to make it a habit and integrate it into your life…for always.

One Day At A Time. Each day, thankfully, is a new beginning. If you miss a day of exercise, don’t use that as an excuse to stop. If you fall off the exercise wagon, don’t forget to get right back on it.

Every Little Bit Counts. One walk around the block once a week is better than no walks around the block. Every little bit does count. Just making small changes in moving your body–skipping the escalator and walking the stairs, or biking or walking to an errand rather than driving–helps us live longer.

Ask Your Chiropractor. Advising patients regarding exercise is a vital part of my work in treating injuries and chronic pain. Every body is different. Your exercise program should be based on your individual body mechanics, and your level of physical conditioning. Your overall health– the capacity of your heart, for instance–needs to be factored into suggestions for exercising. I am available to answer your questions regarding the best exercises for you.