One day I had an inner urging to go to Kmart and buy some leotards and tights. (Yes it was a long time ago). The next day I signed up for a tone and trim class at the community center. Since I was sweating and in the frame of mind to exercise, I added a walk/jog routine after the toning class. I don’t know what came over me because I hated to exercise.
A few months passed and I noticed that I had lost weight, no longer had cold sores, and had no more depression. Exercise became the magic bullet for my life….though I was still smoking and had a terrible diet.
One day at the community center I noticed that an exercise physiologist from the University of Kansas was going to give a talk on the interaction between diet and exercise. It sounded exciting so I attended. That week I enrolled in the degree program and started with about 24 hours of science prerequisites before I could even start the Exercise Physiology degree program. I had been an English major and had too skillfully avoided all of the science classes.
I received a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Community Health in 1989. Exercise physiology is the study of what happens to the body at the cellular level when you exercise. My program included study of the circulatory and nervous systems, muscles and bones, hormones, energy pathways, exercise prescription, nutrition, stress management, weight training, and wellness.
In the 80’s I participated in two triathlons, biked across Iowa, Kansas (twice,) and Michigan. I ran four days a week, lifted weights, and walked my dog every day. As I grew older and busier, I modified that routine. And truthfully, my interests have changed as well. I have become more interested in balanced wellness and self-care than in extreme fitness. My program now includes daily walks and yoga two to three times a week.
I’ve been trained in strength training, but I don’t enjoy lifting weights very much. I much prefer exercise that takes me outside and on the road. But I’m sold on the importance of strength training and am still looking for an environment that will encourage me to lift two or three times a week for 20-30 minutes. I’ll let you know when I get that one nailed down because I know I will.
I take several walks throughout the day to clear my head and enjoy being outside: lunch time, breaks, and at the end of the day when the days are long. On weekends I walk between 8 and 10 miles. My dog Jasmine especially loves the cold weather walks. I skip it when I don’t feel like it or when I’m too busy. I used to hate to exercise – or thought I did.
Once I discovered the many benefits of exercise and that I could choose the kind I liked, I became a lifetime enthusiast. I hope the information provided here will help you make that shift too. And it needs to be fun!