What to Really Expect When You Exercise

Outside of death and taxes, there are so few guarantees in life. The optimist will want to counter that reality while the pessimist, well, it is their reality. But as they say, truth is in the eye of the beholder – you believe what you want. When it comes to exercise, many place it as the “Holy Grail” of sorts to answering all of their woes. It’s the one thing they must do to make everything right in their lives. While I can’t argue with the positive effects regular exercise will have on one’s life, there’s much more to be said about the expectations versus reality that exercise will provide for them. Let’s take a closer look at the realities of exercise and see if they are in line with your expectations.

  • Starting an exercise program can be exciting despite any reservations. It’s something that truly is good for you and that can be liberating. Within the first 4-6 weeks there will be noticeable changes. The body has adapted to the “stress” of the exercise(s) and it feels good. May be even pumps up your excitement about working our. Until….
  • After the initial 4-6 weeks and the body has adapted, it stops adapting. Translation: results diminish at this time. One of the major reasons perhaps for the post New Year’s drop off from exercise. Unless you change something about your routine (length of time, intensity, reps, weight, etc.) the physical adaptations will slowly diminish. Not too long after, the mental shift will also drop off. Whether the exercise was liked or not, there’s a really good chance it will lose its luster.
  • Muscle soreness is expected; muscle pain is not. It’s imperative you understand the difference. When a new physical stress is introduced to the body, the muscles will react and perhaps even become a little stiff/sore. In time, that will diminish and will most likely only reappear when a new motion or weight is introduced. However, it is important to note that muscle soreness is not a badge of honor one should strive for when working out. If muscle soreness is a constant, this could be a sign of a bigger issue. Pain is a signal not be ignored.
  • Just exercising isn’t enough. If the exercise you chose doesn’t match the goal, it can be very frustrating. And if you don’t think that’s important, exercise will never deliver what you expect. So many do copious amounts of “cardio” with the thought that they’ll lose the most weight. The reality is cardio is a terrible fat loss solution by itself.
  • Rest is important. The body gets pushed when it’s asked to exercise properly so planned rest is imperative. When the amount of rest exceeds the amount of exercise however, it will not work for you the way you expect. On the contrary, there’s no benefit to exercising excessively which ultimately leads to physical and mental burnout, or worse injury.

Not to be dismissed, exercise in all or any of its forms is a very good thing. With so many options to chose from, the most important thing is to find what you love and what you can see yourself consistently doing. The exercise in and of it self is only the method. What you get out of it is what you put into it.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

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