I hate exercise. As a child, I hated team sports. Still do. For years, I ran six miles a day. I hated doing it. Every minute of it. That whole endorphin rush? I get a rush from eating cookies.

When I turned 59 I started doing crossfit. It’s the exercise people love to hate. It was great for me.  Here’s why:

  • It gave me an outlet for my grief; it was physically hard which meant there was no room to think about anything else.
  • It made me confident.
  • It made me bold.
  • At an age where my friends are shrinking, I gained half an inch in height.
  • It made me strong.

For reasons, among them moving, I stopped doing crossfit. Instead, I began taking Pilates. No one objects to Pilates. This was good for me in a different way. Here’s why:

  • It improved my balance.
  • It gave me a freaking six pack.
  • It made me flexible.
  • It made me strong.

Every year, we lose the strength, flexibility, and confidence in our bodies that we had in our youth. I’m seeing this in my son. Once, he swore he’d never stop skateboarding. At 30, his knees won’t allow him to skateboard anymore. He’s thinking of getting a bike. For years, I could walk out of the house, and no matter what, I could run at least a mile. That stopped at fifty.

I hated running anyway, so this wasn’t a problem. Except that as we age, we grow weaker and weaker until we no longer trust our body. We fear falling because our balance isn’t good. We can’t carry our groceries. We get shorter and shorter as our spines compress. Everything hurts, and we haven’t done anything to deserve it, except grow old.

And that’s why I exercise. I want to continue to walk long distances. I want to be able to climb, jump, and clamber if not like a kid, then at least not be afraid of doing it. I want to be able to run up and down stairs, not cling to the handrail because I’m afraid of falling. I can never stop exercising, because at my age (61), as soon as I take a break, everything deteriorates. I’m in a battle with inertia, and eventually I’ll lose. But I plan to put up a helluva fight.

Here’s my list of bad reasons to exercise. Yes, I think there are bad reasons. Those are the ones that guarantee you won’t keep it up.

  1. Losing weight. I’ve been exercising, between pretty hard to moderate for two years. I haven’t lost a pound. If that were my motivation, I’d quit. Any sensible person would.
  2. New Year! If you put on a few pounds over the holidays, no doubt you will lose them as you go back to eating (and drinking) normally anyway. If this is your reason to start exercising, you’ll likely stop in three months. Setting an arbitrary date to change your life rarely works. Trust me. I’ve tried and tried. Today. That’s the first day of everything. In fact today is the only day.
  3. Bathing suit! I look terrible in a bathing suit. Sister, don’t do that to yourself. You look fantastic in anything you choose to wear. Don’t buy into marketing lies. Anyone who can’t see your beauty is ugly inside.

When I’m back in town after traveling, I plan to take up kettlebells again. I’ll keep doing Pilates, because there’s a marked difference in my ability to run and jump and stand on one leg from this.  But I miss being strong, strong enough to carry 50 pounds without thinking. Strong enough to kayak for more than an hour without my arms giving out. Strong enough to move furniture and beat my son at arm wrestling.  Because I want to be able to keep doing those things. And that’s a good reason to exercise.