Learning to love sweat

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For all those who have expressed a dislike of working out, I have good news. Exercise aversion is a learned behavior that may happily be reversed.

I don’t think I have ever met the child who would pass up a game of tag, swimming or tree climbing because it was exercise. It is only when we accept that our arms and legs are meant to conform to desks, couches and value meals that we begin to look askance of good old-fashioned, rolling down hills, getting dirty and perhaps a little sweaty fun.

Which brings us to the dreaded subject of perspiration. Our largely climate controlled and floral scented world has made the sweat that comes from exertion a real turn-off for many.

To really enjoy a workout, we first need to change our attitudes about perspiration. Maybe we could start an ad campaign to promote sweating as a status symbol or the new black. Perhaps something like:Sweat – all the healthy bodies are doing it!

It is high time we accept perspiration as a natural and purifying bodily function…just as we should also accept showering before leaving the gym to rejoin the world of the perpetually dry and perfumed.

One key to enjoying exercise is to start with what you already know you like. Think outside the box of traditional fitness regimens. Always loved roller skating parties in school? Lace up or snap into a pair of skates and find a rink, route or park. Whether you decide to shred it down a half pipe, whip it in a roller derby bout or waltz on wheels, you will be exercising…and having a blast doing it.

In fact, having fun is a clear mandate among many fitness programs. If you’re tired of treadmills and dumbbells, you may find exercise nirvana in programs that blend cardio, strength building and muscle confusion to get results. If the aerobics you used to love no longer have you stepping so high, check out dance programs with cross-cultural beats, go Bruce Lee with kickboxing or feel as if you’re flying with aerialist workouts. The range of fitness program options currently available and the fun you can have sampling them will likely surprise you.

What goes better with fun than friends? Exercise doesn’t mean going it alone. Getting fit can be a great social activity. Find a group of friends who enjoy the same physical pursuit or join a club based around an activity. Chances are you’ll work longer and grow stronger with little thought about the stress and strain when surrounded by active, like-minded friends. Bonding over exercise is also great for your emotional wellbeing.

No matter what you try, bringing a positive attitude and a clear purpose to your routine every day can be difficult. We all have to accept that some days we will not perform as well as expected and just move forward. However, setting goals will make bad workouts the exception to the rule. Pick a future race or event that inspires you and is currently beyond your fitness level. Then sign up as a participant. Strivingtoward your physical goal by a deadline will focus and ramp up your workouts as well as your results. Achieving your goal will also build your confidence and support your efforts toward the next challenge you choose.

In the end, the enjoyment you get from exercise will only ever be equal to the effort you put into it. Invest yourself in your workout, tune into your body and work to surpass what you have previously done. If you become present in your workout, it will turn into a highlight of your day rather than another tick on your checklist of things to do. Refuse to go through the motions. It is only when we sincerely invest ourselves – mind and body – that we find love of anything.

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