SFH #61: Exercise your way, not for others

Measuring physiological health through objective measures and personal perspective

After four decades of moving my body consistently and learning about the opportunities and limits of my physiology, I can say confidently that the best exercise is the one you enjoy. 😊

I grew up obsessed with baseball. Day in and day out, I would perfect my swing, learn to turn a double play blind, and hone my right arm into an 80 mph cannon. As my 5'6" lean stature at 17 made me abundantly aware of my limited opportunities for continuing as a professional, let alone a collegiate ballplayer, I shifted my focus. I put on mass and learned the metabolic and muscular flexibility of the genetics I was gifted as a college gym rat. 🧬 I had a steady routine at Gregory Gym and lived out subtle glories on the intramural fields.

As my professional life started to take root in Washington DC, I was ready for another change. Endurance. 🏊‍♀️🚴🏃🏽‍♂️ I longed to prove my fitness capabilities would be worthy beyond high school baseball and intramural presitge. 🤣 I could be a triathlete. It didn't take long for me to figure out that my spectrum of athletic success would always be tied to my genetic prowess and ability to optimize it. Our heart rate metrics (namely are resting and max heart rate along with VO2 Max) lets us know how much we can get out of our genetic vehicles. I parlayed my knowledge and ability into coaching and a short-lived bout of podium stardom in my late twenties. At the end of my triathlon decade of coaching, I was clear that fitness success was more defined from a personal perspective than external measures.

I found I could achieve the feeling of 'fitness' in many ways. Our physiological prowess is measured in energy by heart rate variables, oxygen efficiency, force metrics, and metabolic markers.1 In other words, we can always see how fit we are in strength, speed, and stamina -- it's just a matter of how we want to express and measure it.

Coming back to exercising the way you want and not by following outside influence. An active (exercising) lifestyle benefits from more access to energy and freedom to use it. We get to determine how we want to spend our time and energy. So it's our choice of how, when, and why to leverage that power. When we spend time doing something we love and enjoy, it gives us a sense of satisfaction. Our feel-good hormones (like dopamine and endorphins) are released to make it, so we imprint the beneficial gains of our chosen activity. If we don't like what we are participating in, we miss out on the critical neuro transmitting groove of the physical benefits.

Enjoy it and you will likely stick with it. Consistency is how we get compound interest our energetic gains!

1

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8242125/