Skip to main content

Can You Pass-on Your Exercise Success Story?

I don't mind admitting that other people have helped to give me good ideas, where exercise is concerned. Over the course of a lifetime, it has happened four-to-six times, and it would help me out if it happened again. Specifically, I need some help with hiking. There are people who blog about hiking, and they do a good job of it; but it doesn't seem to help me visualize the sport as interesting.

Isn't it odd how people never get around to discussing the philosophy of exercise? By 'philosophy' I mean the basic questions. What are you trying to accomplish? Why does one sport work better than another, and why does this vary with the person? What is the biggest drawback to the sport, and how do you overcome it? 

And most of all: How do you turn this kind of exercise into something that you actually want to do, instead of something that you are forcing yourself to do? This has been the secret to most of my success with exercise. I've emphasized hedonism, rather than disciplinarianism. It's not that determination and self-discipline have no role to play, but it is prudent not to ask too much from them. They are necessary, but not sufficient, for success.

The trick then, after adopting a realistic and humble attitude toward the self-discipline you are likely to hold to, is to look for other tools. It is these "other tools" that should be consciously dwelled on, while self-discipline stays in the background, lest you provoke yourself into rebelling against it.


Bob said…
I think your sport needs to be more about enjoying life. The exercise is secondary.
XXXXX said…
Good post. I know exactly what you're talking about. For me, it's hiking for some geologic purpose. As I study the geology of the Pacific Northwest, I find out places rich in fossils, rocks, old forest growth, areas with a logging history, etc. It goes on and on. But, yes, hiking for a purpose, which enriches my passion in learning in what I am passionate about, is effortless.
I hike to get even that much farther from ci-VILE-ization, which makes the entire enterprise that much better. Biking is fine, but when you hike you can take the road less gravelled - or better yet, no road or trail at all.
Allison said…
When we age, we all lose muscle and bone density. Bicycling does not help with bone density, one needs to be weight bearing. So, we hike with poles. Poles don't weigh much, but after 5 miles of planting them with each foot step, you know they're there. Anyway, we hike for bone density. We choose hilly, rocky trails and go at it as fast as we can. It's aerobic, it's good for the proprioceptors, and it's good for us. I'd rather ride, but good dense bones will help tremendously with the next fall.
edlfrey said…
I was successful using bicycling as long as I did for exercise only because it got me prepared to Bicycle Tour. It was the promise of Touring that made me want to ride for exercise.
My walking has not been as successful but I would have probably given it up if I didn't have Patches as a walking companion. I only WISH I could get as excited as she does every morning and afternoon but at least a little of her excitement rubs off. Having said that I think I have done reasonably well by doing almost 10,000 miles of 'measured walks' in about 7 1/2 years. I hope Allison is correct and I'm doing something that is good for me.
There is no doubt that a dog is the best walking partner alive!
I hadn't heard of this issue before. Hiking CAN be aerobic, certainly. I tend to walk slow and fall out of aerobic walking.
Getting off the trail might be an under-rated aspect of hiking. I have a Tucson hiking friend whose hiking buddies USUALLY hike OFF-trail. That is quite an endorsement considering how stickery it is around Tucson.

It would be more pleasant to go "bushwhacking" where the vegetation is friendly, like in Utah, creosote bush desert, high grasslands, and ponderosa forests.
I agree. Of course, the more frequently you repeat a route, the more exercise tends to dominate other issues.
Jim and Gayle said…
We have been exercising for years, either cycling, walking, hiking, stationary bike, treadmill, strength training, etc. It is a habit for me, and one which I miss terribly if I don't get to do every day. I always find something interesting to look at while hiking, so it's never boring or a chore, even in not so scenic places. There seem to be geocaches everywhere now, so maybe that would give your hiking more of a purpose other than just the pleasure of being outdoors enjoying nature, (and watching the antics of that crazy Coffee Girl!)
Ideally, I too prefer to get exercise indirectly as I pursue something for other reasons. That's what dogs do, and yet they get plenty of exercise.
You mean geocaches actually help? I don't understand why. But it behooves me to give anything the benefit of the doubt.
Jim and Gayle said…
We have never done geocaching but I mentioned it because friends of ours who never hiked took up geocaching. It gives them a reason to get outside and get some exercise while trying to find the cache. Anything that gives you an incentive to exercise is a good thing.
wannabe said…
My experience has been that people who are veterans of regular exercise, (people who have exercised consistently for 20, 30 or more years) sooner or later reach the point of pretty deep reflection on what exercise(s) they do and why they do them.

Additionally, I have observed that such people, if prompted a little, will expound on these topics
to an apparently infinite extent.

I would have to count myself among this group. I was bitten by the exercise bug 33 years ago and it has kept a firm hold upon me ever since.

Considerable reflection on why I do it has brought me the understanding that my primary motivation is related to my enjoyment of instant gratification. Instant gratification has gotten a pretty bad name the last few decades, what with all of our concern about addictions, etc, and our puritanical perception that gratification is something to be sacrificed or at least, delayed. I can't say that I subscribe to any of that stuff.

I like your term "hedonism" vs the other term "disciplinarianism". I think, though, that what people often call "hedonism" is a certain quality of present-time enjoyment with a rather stiff price of later-time anti-enjoyment. I would use the term "decadence" for the latter. Me, I'm a hedonist. I want the kind of pleasure now which will bring me even more pleasure later. That's what I call "hedonism". That is what I get from exercise.

I think that if exercise is unpleasant to you, you have overstepped and are doing too much too soon. Exercise is best embarked upon with a profound attention to the principle of "gradualness", rather than "abruptitude".

Anything that you do with abruptitude will more or less suck.

"No pain, no gain" strategies are ridiculous and suggestive of an immaturity about how life works. If you tell a carrot growing in your garden, "no pain, no gain", the carrot will laugh at you and keep on growing at his gradual, natural pace. Integrate exercise into your life using the carrot's example of painless, natural gradualness.

I added walking to my exercise repretoire about ten years ago. I had been exercising for more than two decades at that point, and I had never liked walking because it always seemed to make my body hurt within an hour or so. I noticed that other people seemed not to have this experience, but it seemed a mystery to me why walking made me hurt so much, while most of my other exercises made me feel blissful.

Well....the first thing for me to do was get rid of any descriptive terminology which might be suggestive of negativity. For me "hiking" has a pretty negative connotation, so I use the benign term "walking". One could probably do even better if one chose an even more fun term than, "walking", I think.

So...I began walking.....I usually started hurting within about 45 minutes and I hurt too much to continue after 60 minutes. Taking a page from F.M. Alexander, I began to consider the way in which I was walking and experiment with walking differently and see if I achieved a different result. The results were astounding and liberating, and lead me off into a variety of personal studies of my "gait".

Write back if you want to know more details....happy walkin'.........Allan.
Interesting that you should mention improving your gait. The last couple weeks, I was thinking about the same thing. I think I walk too slow and straight-legged; maybe I should walk a bit more like a cyclist pedals, in a lower (easy pedaling) gear.
edlfrey said…
"One could probably do even better if one chose an even more fun term than, "walking", I think."

I sort of like PEREGRINATING - ha, ha
gosh137 said…
Use hiking as a means to to what you are interested in. 3 examples: What to make money? Learn the difference between fool's gold and real gold, & how to "read" a stream. Head for California Rt 49 and hike the hills with a gold pan in your hand. Like nature? Get some binoculars and a camera (they make light weigh ones with 24mm wide angle to 1500mm telephoto lens) and "shoot" some birds (they are everywhere from hummers in southern Calif to puffins of the coast of northern Maine) and flowers (also everywhere). Want to help make the world a better place? Grab a 3' long "grabber" (sold at drug stores) and a bucket and hike the urban and suburban streets to pick up litter.
XXXXX said…
This morning on the local news, there was a section on what's going on at the local gym. They have a cycling program with a bike you have to steer and brake, a screen with an outdoor topography and it's set up to race an opponent. They call it "exercise disassociation." Pretty interesting, the human psyche.
Think of it. It's not much different than imagining "Master and Commander".
Of course, there is the difference in actually being outside. But, no danger of crashing and hurting oneself. In the gym, you can crash on screen but you don't hurt yourself.
We're becoming a virtual world, aren't we? Kids indoors doing their games hardly play outside anymore.
What's to become of us?
XXXXX said…
What's also pretty interesting is, think of it, one could ride the "breaking point" all the time.
I'll sign up with that health club when their virtual simulation makes me feel like I'm being kissed by two podium girls.
George didn't like me assigning homework. (Or maybe it was the punishment I promised when readers didn't do their homework. (grin)) But I was going to assign Thoreau's short essay, "Walking."

In it, he starts off by writing about his preferrred term: sauntering.
XXXXX said…
Considering this is an honors class, the homework should be for extra credit. I think class participation should be the major portion of the grading system.
wannabe said…
Yeah.....cadence is a biggie in both biking and walking. I like to always be ready to modify cadence based on my creative mood of that moment.

Yeah.....let's see.....cadence; degree of knee-bend; degree of butt-protrusion; degree of toe-out(pronation?): degree of toe-in(supination?); length of step vs shortness of step; knee-in vs knee-out; stomach-out vs stomach-in' chest-sink vs chest-out; shoulder-raise vs shoulder-back; anteriority of head vs posteriority of head; line-of-sight-up vs line of sight down; lift of head upward vs sink of head downward; breath(an entire universe unto itself)....and many more adjustable prameters....

I discovered first that by slightly narrowing my stance and pointing my toes more forward, my tension-free walking time almost immediately quadrupled from one hour to four hours. For me that's somewhere around 10-14 miles. I was shocked and amazed.......

The key seemed to be to slightly traction or adjust various parameters but only slightly and never to the point of creating greater levels of tension than before. If you're creating tension, you're pushing too much......

Also....allowing my butt to stick out a bit here and there helped to eliminate lumbar and cervical spine pain which has tormented me since early adolescence. I think that I must have been tightly holding my "dead white pelvis". as I think Eldreage Cleaver mentions in "Soul On Ice". I now just let it stick out a bit and am quite a bit more at ease, at many levels.....more later.....