Let's See Physical Activity as an Adventure

 Photo Courtesy of Florian Bernhardt

Photo Courtesy of Florian Bernhardt

If you’re like me, going to the gym gets boring quickly. While I know that resistance training and cardio are super important, I can only do maybe a month at the most consistently. I get super into a routine, and enjoy upping reps or difficulty and plug into my favorite podcasts and playlists. But, I could never keep it going. Either overuse injuries or the inevitable feeling that all my muscles are screaming at me (a sign that you’re trying to do too much by the way) would give me the feeling that I “need to take it easy.” Of course, that membership languishes. And thus, the cycle continues.

I think we’ve all done this. We may love the feeling we get afterwards-- hell yeah endorphins-- “the gym” to me was always seen as this chore or thing I had to do. Due to this, our minds and bodies rebel against it. But here’s the thing-- no one forced us to run around or ride our bikes as children. In fact, we had to be forced back inside by our parents. And why was this? Because we found joy in moving our bodies. On exploring, pushing our boundaries.

It wasn’t until I started to view movement and physical activity through this lens that I began to make a concerted effort to get consistency in becoming active. When I say adventure, I mean both in the small, daily steps and the grand plans. Walking, something simple that we take for granted, you can use it to connect to nature and find new areas of your city. When I lived in Florida, I would go kayaking as a way to share a passion of my grandmother’s while giving myself needed solitude.

Pushing boundaries is something that was more difficult. I was invited by my step-mother to a rock climbing gym. I’ll be honest, I failed miserably. I never once made it to the top and I couldn’t use my arms for a couple of days afterwards. I couldn’t even do some simple bouldering problems. But I decided that I wouldn’t let that stop me. I read climbing magazines and looked into rock climbing gyms. I saw them in remote parts of the Earth, pushing themselves both mentally and physically. I craved that. I decided I would work on climbing indoors and work up to actual rock one day -- in the United States and abroad.

While I haven’t achieved it, I think that having this crazy, grand, wonderful bucket list dream that makes your heart flutter and scares the shit out of you at the same time will be what keeps you going. There will be setbacks, injuries, or demands on your time. But the key is having something clearly defined to achieve instead of this vague “I do it because I have to.” And sometimes these activities involve going to the gym or lifting weights. But when you frame it as “working on my endurance so I can hike the Appalachian trail this summer” it becomes more urgent.

Moving your body is a form of treating yourself. It boosts your creative and mental power, gives you those “feel good” chemicals, and decreases stress levels. And for me, it gives me valuable time I need to my thoughts. It’s not just exercise, it’s an act of discovery. An ongoing adventure. Refill your well and reclaim that part of yourself that would ride bikes until the streetlights came on.

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