You see them everywhere, don’t you? People exercising with their smart phones in hand, ear-buds plugged in, enjoying their own music, conversation, recorded book or other mp3 download. And there are good reasons to use them as an aid to exercising – they make the time go faster and the workout seem easier and less stressful. One study reported in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that music provides a ‘distraction effect’ for walkers and joggers, reducing the fatigue and stress of exercise so that the workout becomes more comfortable.
I tend to take the opposite approach. I like to feel a part of my surroundings and discover interesting sites along the way. Usually it’s flowers or cloud formations or window displays. Last week I was walking in a quiet woody area and noticed a clearing with tree stumps in a circle. I visualized young scouts huddled around a campfire there. That brought up memories of my own childhood – and soon I realized I had walked another two miles just thinking about the fun I had as a kid. Other times I like to brainstorm and plan – what I’m going to blog about, how to organize the rest of my day, who I want to call or email when I get home, what to make for dinner.
Staying motivated to continue a long walk or jog can be difficult when you feel you’ve hit the wall. It helps to remind yourself of your goals and visualize yourself reaching them. Another way to stay on track – literally – is to break down the remaining period into a set of manageable and attainable sections. And ease up if you find that you’re really too tired to continue at the same pace.
The need to find just the right carrot isn’t only academic for Phyllis and me. We’ve been training for the past few months for a half-marathon we’ll be power walking soon in New York. It’s called the MoonWalk – we begin at midnight and walk the streets of Manhattan. We’re raising money to support breast cancer screening at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Breast Examination Center of Harlem. If you’re in the New York area on the night of July 20th, come out to cheer us on.
What helps you stick with your exercise routine? Share your tips here in the Leave a Reply section below to help all of us stay inspired.