Doing it for the right reasons

These crazy steps get steeper as they get higher
I woke up last Sunday and very gingerly got out of bed. I expected sore feet, an aching back, and stiff quads. The previous night I had spent a couple of hours dancing (sometimes vigorously) to The English Beat. I had moved my body in ways it had forgotten and lost a couple of gallons of sweat.

It was a fabulous night, like being back in college, but I was certain I would suffer the next day. Just the fact that the band didn't start playing until after 10 p.m. was a warning sign.

So I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, except for suffering from minor dehydration and less than a full night's sleep, I felt darn good. No pain, no soreness. Just the memory of a fun concert with friends.

And it occurred to me that maybe my workouts were to thank for my easy recovery.

I don't work out as much as I should or as much as I would like, but I try to get in a combination of climbing stadium stairs at Santa Barbara City College and a heart-pumping and hilly 3-mile walk a couple times a week.

Sometimes I am not sure what my goals are for working out. Yes, I'd like to drop ten pounds. Yes, I'd like to keep my cholesterol and triglycerides in check. Yes, I like the endorphins that keep stress at bay. And yes, I hope to reap the physical benefits of stronger bones and cardiovascular fitness.

But I don't feel strongly enough about any of those things to get myself out the door more than three times a week, or else I would be doing it.

Then it occurred to me that what I really want from exercise is the ability to live my life the way I want to live it. I want to do what I want to do and go where I want to go, without hobbling around in pain, or worse, avoiding activities altogether.

If I go to San Francisco, I want to be able to walk up and down hills. If I go to a festival, craft show or fair, I'd like to be able to stand on my feet for hours at a time. If I go to a concert, I want to be able to rock out! There are many other instances that come to mind where having energy and endurance are necessary in my life. Public speaking, for example!

So really, exercise serves one main purpose for me: to allow me to live my life. All the other benefits are welcome and happen without any extra thought, but if I were to focus on those results, I would be exercising for the wrong reasons. At least the wrong reasons for me.

No comments: