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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My life-long relationship with exercise

As you have read in many of my prior blog posts, I believe very strongly in the overall health and also the specific heart health benefits of frequent exercise. 

I've been exercising for years. It has not been consistent or easy but it's always somehow a part of my life. 

Throughout high school I played organized team sports. In college, I played intramural and pickup basketball. I also was introduced to weight lifting in college. In medical school, although time began to be more and more scarce, I still wanted to and made time to play pickup basketball and intermittently work out in the gym. I also started mountain biking. I started running short and medium distances in my final year of medical school. 

During residency, I continued to run short and middle distances but lost touch with playing team sports. During fellowship, I continued to run (I did find time to train and run a 1/2 marathon) but did so sparingly and inconsistently. I tried playing in a basketball league but had difficulty due to my ridiculously busy schedule. 

The first 9 years of being in private practice and being the father of three young girls, I exercised very infrequently (although I thought about it every day). The only consistent thing was playing doubles tennis every Tuesday night during the Fall, Winter and Spring months. 

However, the last year has been different. Instead of sticking with what I had been doing for the past 15 years, I decided to start shaking things up. It started with rediscovering my love of basketball. I started playing pick up basketball at my gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I then rediscovered my love of biking in the form of formal spin classes. I also started taking a once a week boot camp class. I am now doing personal training twice a week before work and mixing in running/spin/yoga with FitStar App guided workouts the other days of the week. 

Clearly there are some people that are just born to exercise. They make time for it rain or shine, irrespective of how busy they may be. That's not me. Although I may think about it almost daily, I'm someone that can easily talk myself out of doing it for a whole host of excuses. 

I have learned over the past year that I need company (friends, family, trainers) to keep me motivated. I love that after 17 years of marriage, spin class is finally an activity something my wife and I enjoy doing together. I love the motivation that my trainer gives me to push myself harder and harder. I love the sweat, pain and laughter of playing basketball with a group of guys. 

Some of the other benefits of consistent exercise:
- I am proud of the example I'm setting for my girls
- I love how well I sleep the days I work out
- I love how good I feel after a workout (even though getting myself out of bed on a dark 10 degree morning was sheer torture)
- I look forward to the stress release it provides me

The only thing I don't like is how my body hurts (knees, shoulders, back...). Getting older hurts...

Well, that's the story of my relationship with exercise. What's yours? What helps you start and keeps you moving? What holds you back?