I know– you’re all probably thoroughly tired of year-end lists. We want to rank everything from best reggae cover songs to best pet motels. Yet here I am, wanting to take stock of my experiences of the past fitness year, so a list I shall make.
Herewith, in no particular order, 4 lessons I learned about fitness that I’ll carry with me into 2016.
1) Everyday exercise is good for whatever ails you.
This year taught me that no matter what is going on personally, professionally, medically, or geographically, if I can walk from place to place then I should. And it will help– with stress, with the creakiness of aging, with depression, with decision making, you name it. It also made me slow down (literally), which created time– time to plan and time to contemplate. I’m keeping this up (more on those dreaded New Years resolutions next week).
2) New activities or sports are out there for you when you need them.
Trying a new sort of movement or environment can shake up a fitness routine that’s gotten stale or has stopped working. Last summer I renewed an old interest in kayaking and had lots of adventures with friends and alone, at home and also far away. It helped me feel a sense of accomplishment, too, when running didn’t work out because of knee problems. And I’m pursuing scuba diving next year, too. Rotating in a new sport can be refreshing to both mind and body.
3) It’s okay to give some familiar sport or activity a rest from time to time.
I love cycling. This year was not a great year, however, for me as a cyclist. For a bunch of reasons, I didn’t get out on long rides, even though I love them. When I went on sabbatical I took my road bike with me. But that didn’t magically translate into a lot of cycling. I was embarrassed about this. But the bikes are still here, and I’m psyched to start training again. I signed up for the Friends for Life Bike Rally next summer with Samantha, Natalie, and a bunch of others. Having a training goal is motivating, and time off the bike will help me approach training afresh.
4) Exercise and sleep are non-negotiable needs.
Earlier this year, both my exercise and sleep schedules got disrupted. When that happens, everything else is affected– mood, concentration, diet, relationships– you name it. For me, it took a 10,000 mile (one way) trip to make clear how profound the benefits of good sleep and exercise are. I feel stronger, much much much happier, and super-refreshed. Now the key is to make these two things a top priority in 2016. But I’m getting ahead of myself– the obligatory resolutions post is coming up.
So, readers– what are some lessons you’ve learned this year about fitness from your experiences?