What motivates you to exercise? If it's based in fear – fear of weight gain, fear of disease, fear of judgment – it's unlikely that you will sustain a fitness routine, let alone enjoy it.
I recently asked a room full of adults why they exercise and here were some of their responses:
- So I can eat what I want.
- To stay in shape.
- So I don't gain weight.
- To be healthy.
- To burn calories.
Do you hear the fear in their answers?
Previous generations also recognized the value of physical activity, but for much different reasons than we do today. According to Dr. George Sheehan in his book Personal Best, cites the following 4 reasons that 19th century Americans found to stay active:
1. Spirituality – Preparing the body for the return of Christ was part of Christian beliefs. Also note that many of the worlds greatest thinkers and authors are known to have spent a lot of time out on long walks in nature.
2. Health and stress management – Defense against stressors/strains of urbanization. Even in the 1800's they saw the writing on the wall about how urbanization was impacting health.
3. Strength of character – With increasing comforts of daily living there was fear that Americans were getting soft, so they were encouraged to get back to nature and "rough it" via activities like hiking and boating.
4. Immortality – Work became America's religion, and fitness became viewed as a means of living and working longer.
How would your exercise routine look and feel different if these were the types of reasons you were doing it?
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