My earliest memories of “exercise” would go back to my early years (Age 7) on the YMCA swim team in Houston.  I think you start off thinking swimming is fun until you start to compete and then it becomes work!

I well remember those late evening, two-hour practices that always ended with sore muscles, wrinkled fingers and body and hair that wreaked of chlorine.  These were the beginnings of my life in a family of athletes.

Mom was a table tennis and tennis player, Dad was an avid and devoted volleyball player and eventually all nine kids found themselves with one or two areas that they really excelled in. Mike- Football (4 year college linebacker with pre-season games for the Houston Oilers) and later running, Sue – Swimming, Steve- Running, Chris- Softball, Eric-Swimming, Basketball, Football, Baseball (And now martial arts),  Mia- Volleyball, Keith – Swimming and Running, Cindy – Volleyball and Tennis, and me – Triathlon (Mostly).

As a pastor and as a former personal trainer/fitness instructor, I realize that not too many people had a culture of exercise, sport and competition growing up, so I have to ask, “Besides my upbringing what has kept me involved in a lifestyle of exercise for the last 40 plus years?”  There are many things that could be listed but I want to share with you the big “Three” in my book.

1.  Find an exercise/activity/sport you ENJOY

I will say that part of what kept me active was finding sports and activities that I enjoyed.

These have not always been the same throughout the years. The sports of my school days were: swimming, running, football, basketball and baseball. Once in college only Running and weight training were important to me.

Once I left college working out was “optional” (or so it seemed) for the first time in my life.  I found weight lifting and body building to be something that I really enjoyed. Even after I began travelling full-time I would do running and push-ups to keep active.

Later after I started pastoring my first congregation I became very active in tennis and weightlifting, then at the age of 35 I began competing in triathlon (Swim-Bike-Run). Because a foot ailment has hindered me from running I have been doing “cross training” at the gym, and hope to start biking and swimming again this winter.

My point is you need to enjoy an activity to be consistent with it.  That activity can change year to year but if you are bored with it or it is not practical eventually you will quit.

2.  Be able to measure improvement

I can’t stress this enough, if you intend to stay active in exercise you should pick something that can be measured.

I realize some people like to do “recreational” exercise (for the “fun of it”) and that is O.K. but how do you know if your “exercise” is benefiting you if you have no way to measure your progress? 

If you are a walker you should either be working to walk further or faster, if you are lifting weights you should be able to do more reps or heavier weights.

 This is one of the reasons I love to race because it’s not so much about me beating someone else (Though that can be fun too!), but about me making my times faster. Measuring your progress is one of the best ways to get motivation to do that next workout or session. When you are improving it just makes you want to do it that much more, when you are not it tells you something needs to change!

3.  Keep Variety!

As I mentioned above I have not always been involved in the same activity and these days, since my foot issue, I have had to come up with lower impact ways to get my heart rate up including running the high school bleachers, stairs, and even a little tennis! 

The good thing about variety is that you work different muscle groups and are less likely to get injured when you have muscle memory in many different parts of your body. 

Regardless of your background, age or ability , after all you are only as young as you feel and without exercise you will never feel your best!  As Christians we must see our bodies as the “Temple” of the Holy Spirit and a lifestyle of exercise is one good way to keep it healthy.

Be blessed! PK

2 thoughts on “3 Keys to a Successful Exercise Lifestyle

  1. Exercise for all ages is a good thing. One advantage to us “old-timers” is that we can take is S-L-O-W-L-Y!!
    P.S. How about bicycle riding????

  2. Encouraging. Started at a 12 minute mile, down to an 8 -1/2 now. A few sore muscles and now a knee. I have had some life changing moments on the track with God and with my family. Learning how to Jog-run has been a great way to meditate on the Word, love my family, and share the good news with folks. A seed was planted when the LHC run club said I was going to bring home the “W” if I kept going. My family and I have had alot of wins. The Glory belongs to Christ Jesus but so thankful for the usable vessels.

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