Exercise Is A Keystone Habit That Triggers Widespread Change

Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.  -Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

On my daughters birthday, some years ago I decided to begin an exercise practice. For weeks, I only walked. Then I began to walk/run, along with some basic stretching. Finally I was running and strength training, six days a week. My records show the two most important changes were evident in my waistline measurement and a slight reduction in body weight. Pictures from that time capture an image of a nicely toned physique.

Just shy of the three year mark, circumstances changed and I was unable to run. We were travelling in South East Asia for a few months where there were no places to run and once we arrive in Cape Town, South Africa, I didn’t feel safe running outside so I sent my kit home in the next shipment. My husband had acquired a small foam exercise mat and kept the resistance elastics, so I could have kept up my strength training, but I chose not to participate. I entered a three year slump.

I have many excuses for not getting back into an exercise habit, none of them being good reasons. But, this state of inactivity persists. I tried to get back into my old routine at the beginning of the covid-19 lockdown. But, I literally picked up where I left off and could not manage it. The run was too long and I was so wiped out that I didn’t flex another muscle to strength train. The whole experiment lasted a week. Predictably, my waistline grew and I packed on some weight as the months rolled on. My fixed waist pants were getting too tight to comfortably wear.

Now that 2020 is over, I have a different view of things. There is absolutely no point in waiting for things to get better on the global scene before dealing with my affairs. The world will change as it will, with no input from me. I can only control myself. So I’m back to square one. On my daughters birthday I’m going back at it. I’m not exactly sure what my routine will be, yet. But, I’ll figure it out. What I am loving right now is yin yoga. That is really helping me feel comfortable in my body, which is something I have been wishing for my whole life.

As for the claim that exercise and creativity are linked, I have no doubt. I mean, it sounds very logical. An exercise practice is good for our bodies, and our brains are the at the top, controlling the whole show. I don’t need to wait for definitive scientific proof of this connection before I get busy reaping the creative rewards of exercise. My last stint of regular exercise helped give me the courage to leave a job I was not happy in anymore. In so doing, that action gave birth to our family trip around the world. Maybe Charles Duhigg is on to something with the idea of this ‘cornerstone habit’.

Whatever I end up creating for my new practice, the key is to introduce it slowly and consistently with a plan in mind. I know this about myself. I can’t simply jump back into a long and difficult exercise session. Not only am I not up to that physically, I am not there in my mind either. I need time to slowly adapt. I’m finally adjusted to pandemic life, so this is a good point to add on some new layers of complexity. I can do it!

That is the trickery of the mind I need to get up to in order to take on something that I really don’t want to do. If I could be perfectly healthy without exercise, that is what I would prefer. But, as I get older, it is abundantly clear to me – I must exercise. I want to keep the functioning of my physical body in tip top shape as long as possible. I make no distinctions between brain and body, they are connected. So, exercise it is!

By pursuing an exercise practice, it seems logical that our level of wellness and creativity will be enhanced. As the DailyFinds this week have explored, there is much to be gained from becoming or staying active. Enjoy these DailyFinds if you missed any of them this week.

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“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” ― Jim Rohn

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