For me, at least, the single most neglected and avoided part of self-improvement is physical fitness. Without a doubt, I loathe every moment I spend in a gym. Many of you may be the same way.
Yet I personally believe that it’s probably one of the things that holds me back more than anything in my desire for personal development. Here’s why:
- How you view yourself takes into account many different inputs. It’s not only the things that you say and do that impact your perception of who you are, but how you look is also very important (for both men and women). If you have a negative perception of the way you look in the mirror, you’re going to have a hard time liking the rest of yourself.
- Your level of physical fitness accounts for your levels of stress, your ability to think and act creatively, and a host of other issues. By neglecting exercise, you allow your strength, flexibility, and endurance to suffer. This, in turn, impacts how you react to stressful or inconvenient situations that crop up during your day. Whether it’s meeting a deadline at work, or dealing with a repair person at home, you’ll be more calm, collected, and rational if you’re consistently doing something to improve your body and relieve stress.
- Being healthy allows you to do the things you want to do better and for a longer period of time. I’m only 33 years old. I realize that this may not be old to many folks who read this; on the other hand, it may be ancient to others. What I’ve come to realize in the past few years is that, even at this early age in my life, my body has begun to give out on me. I don’t recover from strenuous activities that I enjoy (like hiking) nearly as quickly as I used to. I wake up with pain in joints that I’ve never felt before, and don’t even recall using. Exercise prevents this slow decline (or at least will stave it off for a longer period of time). I don’t want to be old before my time. I want to be able to play with my son without getting tired out, or enjoy a game of softball without waking up the next morning with a sore shoulder from throwing and a sore back from swinging a bat.
You’ve heard all the suggestions before, haven’t you? “Just find something you like, that way you’ll stick with it!” I’m here to tell you, as a person who doesn’t enjoy many active pursuits, that you CAN do this. You may have to work at it (personally, I enjoy riding my road bike and hiking, two activities that don’t mix well with the winter season here in Idaho), but you can find SOMETHING.
And you know what? If you don’t, you may just have to suck it up and find something that works, whether you enjoy it or not. The important thing is to remember what will happen to you if you don’t; you’ll become old before your time, encountering many health problems and at risk for a premature death. Lately, the fear of hypertension and cancer, two issues that run in my family, have convinced me to take my health a lot more seriously. Let me tell you 20-somethings: it’s a lot harder getting back into shape when you’re my age than it probably would have been just staying that way. But it can be done.