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Healthy Minds Healthy College

What’s love got to do with it?

April 18, 2014

For many people exercise presents a special set of challenges. Here’s a realistic guide for getting started and not getting discouraged.

What’s love got to do with it? When it comes to fitness, in the end, love is all that matters. Exercising in public when you’re out of shape can be an emotionally bruising experience. Huffing and puffing to keep up, you feel inadequate and self-conscious, hating every moment you spend on the treadmill or pacing the track. Maybe you’re trying to tell yourself something.

One of the most common mistakes people make when starting to exercise is trying an exercise program that doesn’t suit them or was designed for someone else. People make the decision that they are going to “Do it right”, they join a health club and get a program and commit to working out four times a week. Most people taking this approach fail and failing makes them even more disheartened. What they don’t realize is that it was the wrong approach.

The first goal is to increase your physical activity and not to punish yourself for being out of shape. Begin by recognizing the benefits of diversity and explore the many options open to you and your individual interests. images-1

Learn to dance, take up a martial art, learn to swim, dig a garden, take up wall climbing, find a tennis partner. What’s important is to find something that you enjoy and works for your lifestyle.  Recreation Services on campus offers a wide variety of different programs that will help get you active.  Visit our website at for a complete listing of classes and start dates.

Regardless of what shape you are in, you can derive tremendous benefit from physical activity. Research indicates that exercise can reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease, for example, and can mitigate the effects of stress and depression.

For most people beginning an exercise program, the biggest considerations is losing weight and this in turn can also be the biggest emotional hurdle. An exercise program may or may not lead to weight loss, but it definitely will lead to an improvement in physical, metabolic and emotional fitness. When we learn to let go of ‘losing weight’ as the main goal of fitness training it frees us to focus on the real benefits and achievable goals of exercising.


In their eagerness to get started, the non-active people frequently fall into a pattern of error, which can sabotage the project before it gets off the ground.

Common mistakes are excising too hard and exercising too easy. There are those who try to get started with an exercise program, fling themselves at it only to get exhausted, injured, and realize few improvements in their health and fitness: they try to exercise too hard. Conversely, there are those who spend plenty of time exercising but don’t get their heart rate up enough to realize the benefits they are seeking.

Don’t swim laps just because someone says it’s an ideal exercise even though you hate it. Learn to ballroom dance, fence, ice skate, or snowboard.  Join a sports team.  Many leagues let you sign up as an individual with a free agent team or as team with a group of friends. This type of social(yet physical) activity could be just the thing to get you kick started on the road to a healthy active lifestyle.

Your Options:

  • Find your starting point. Do some fitness tests to see where you are now.
  • Forget the fat. Reprogram your thinking to focus on fitness not fatness.
  • Find fitness goals. Learn about physical and emotional fitness and why these should be your goals. A rounded exercise program takes all goals into consideration and gives you training in all elements of fitness.

The main determinant of whether an exercise program is successful is how hard it is in relation to your current level of fitness. No program will get results unless you stick to it, which is why you have to find an activity you love. One of the main reasons for people not sticking to their exercise plans is lack of time, so don’t waste time with an exercise program that might not work for you. Tailor your program to your fitness level and unique emotional, and physical characteristics and you will be sure to achieve your goals.