I get this question quite often. “What do you do to stay fit?” My answer is simple – “Everything”. The truth is there is no one-size-fits-all magic formula for fitness. Any exercise that at least doubles your resting heart and breathing rate for at least 30 minutes at a time will benefit your fitness. If we think of fitness as a house, that’s the front door. Now you’ve opened it, walk through it and feel free to explore the rooms.
I’ve tried virtually every type of exercise, running (we have a love-hate relationship), aerobics, yoga, pilates, barre, weight-lifting, calisthenics, swimming – you name it, I’ve probably tried it. They all focus on some dimension of fitness and can serve as accessories to each other. The point is to start where you need the most attention or with what you will consistently do.
Identifying Your Critical Path
In project management, there is the concept of the Critical Path – the list of steps or tasks that must be completed in order to achieve the goal. All of us have a critical path when it comes to fitness. The path most often involves flexibility, endurance, and strength. For many of us, balance, and agility are concerns as well. I would dare say most of us know what we should be working on based on the limitations we experience in our daily lives and what our physicians may advise us. So when you think about where to start, start at the area of most urgency. That would usually be at the beginning of your critical path.
Take Advantage of Opportunities
Another benefit of being willing to try everything is the opportunity to learn and master a new skill. Many studies have reported that there is a dual benefit to learning a new skill. The obvious benefit is the skill, but the added benefit is the resilience and increased sense of capability you develop when you’ve acquired a new skill. Both of these are gifts that keep on giving. I had a client that aggravated an old ankle injury and could not cycle for 4 to 6 weeks. She was concerned that she would not be able to maintain her cardiorespiratory fitness during that time. My counsel to her was that it was a perfect time to learn how to swim. She would be able to take the pressure of impact off her ankle and maintain and even improve her cardiorespiratory fitness while acquiring a new skill.
What Do You Have To Lose?
In the end, making yourself open to all types of exercise is a win for you. Sure, your ego might take a small hit as you go through the learning process, but you will recover and make great leaps forward once you’ve mastered your new skill and improved your fitness in the process.