Things I Learned From Exercise

Let me be perfectly clear right from the start.

I hate exercise.

I do not use the word hate lightly.  I have an intense and passionate dislike for any activity which is done solely for the purpose of “exercise” – Activity requiring physical effort, carried out esp. to sustain or improve health and fitness.  There are activities that I enjoy in their own right that can help to improve my health and fitness.  Bicycling is at the top of that list.  But the pure unadulterated exercise?  I hate it.

I can not deny that exercise has made a difference in my life when I have done it regulaly.  More importantly than the physical health and strength it has given me exercise has taught me several vitally important lessons.

Patience

I am not a patient person.  Exercise has taught me that some things take time.  I will not make it up the hill on my bike the very first time I ride.  I will not be able to run a mile without stopping the very first time I go out.  By investing time and effort over a period of time I achieve.  It’s easy to simply say that (people have been telling me that my whole life) but there is a profound impact when you learn it viscerally.  That first run of a mile without stopping.  It wasn’t pretty.  It certainly wasn’t fast.  At the end I was drenched in sweat, chest heaving, light headed and feeling like I was about to die.  With a smile on my face.  It took time.  Day after day of sweating with my lungs burning and my legs screaming and staggering to a walk before I’d reached my goal.

The victory of that patience is especially sweet.

Limits

This is not what you may think.  Exercise has taught me that my limits are not where I supposed them to be.  For years I quit because it was hard and I couldn’t do it any more.  That was the limit I thought existed.  Then came the day when I said “It’s hard, I can’t do it any more.  But let’s see if we can get to that next corner”.  Or the next block.  Or let’s see how far we can push.  Push beyond what is hard.  Beyond that first pain.  And sometimes the second.

My limits are not the cozy neighborhood I have always supposed.  I can do more.  I have done more.  I will do more yet to come.

 

Most importantly I have discovered that those lessons extend beyond exercise.  I can apply those lessons in many places in my life.  That life has been expanded and improved because of them.  Being healthy on top of it is no small thing as well.

All from something that I continue to hate in its own right.

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