Checking in with my Facebook fitness friends: Online communities, support, and defining what counts as exercise

I’m a member of  two very different Facebook groups that started January 1st and now a month into 2016 I thought, like Catherine, I’d check in and let you know how it’s going.

One was started by a friend who is a cyclist and an accountant and who struggles with staying active through tax season.

The group is called 20 Minute Daily Groove: “20 minutes daily of ANY kind of activity that gets you up and moving, from now until May 1st (the end of Canadian tax season!). Whatever you consider activity for you, counts. Set your own guidelines (eg days off for sickness or travel are ok, if you decide they are ok) Support for each other, chat, advice, etc. This is not a competition and it is not about weight loss. NO SPAM. NO HATERS. Be nice, please.”

Okay. I’m in!

The other was started by the partner of a philosophy friend. It’s called 216 in 2016 and it’s got a different mission:

WHAT: The idea is simple. In 2016 there are 365 days. We are going to challenge ourselves to workout 216 times in those 365 days.

WHY: (1) Consistently doing deliberate exercise is one of the most important factors in developing good health and fitness. (2) Choosing to complete a workout or not is something we can control.

HOW: (1)Workouts are defined as any form of deliberate exercise/movement. Some example are, lifting weights, doing gymnastic, a CrossFit WOD, a hike in the great outdoors, practicing a martial art or yoga. Taking a dance class or playing rec softball with the folks from work. (2) Use a spreadsheet, a habit tracking app, or a notebook and give yourself a check mark for every workout you complete.

Let’s get cracking!”

Also, challenge accepted. I’m in. I love the idea.

So here are four things I’ve noticed after a month of being part of the the two groups.

First, I love that neither group is about weight loss. Thank God. Seems like the attitude of measuring fitness by the number on the scale is finally fading  a bit.

Second, I do a lot of different stuff! I’ve joked about being an attention deficit disorder exerciser before and that is true. This month I’ve done lots of Aikido, hot yoga, running, bike trainer sessions…but also cross country skiing, snow shoeing, boxing, ice skating, and fat biking. I’ve done 22 workouts in January. At this rate I should be good getting in 216 workouts in 2016.

Third, I like seeing all the different stuff people do. These are online communities and I don’t know most of the people but I like it when someone likes my status update to the group and cheers me on. I feel supported. Likewise, I reach out to others and chat with them about what they’re up to.

Fourth, I have an easy time deciding what’s a workout. Snow shoeing required special gear and was hard work. It counts. Ditto hot yoga. Def cycling. But the 20 min of daily activity I’m less sure about. Some days are rest days and I walk the dog and walk a bit around campus. That’s everyday exercise and I guess it counts but sometimes I’m not sure. I live in a 3 story house and do lots of laundry. That’s work but I don’t time it.

What do you count as exercise?



6 thoughts on “Checking in with my Facebook fitness friends: Online communities, support, and defining what counts as exercise

  1. This is a great read. I like the challenges too and how you describe the activities in each group. I am finding exercise quite challenging with the injuries that I am carrying at the moment. But I try and do something every day even if it is standing in a situation instead of sitting. I think exercise can not always be formal like a sport or a fitness class. That can be beyond some people, like me, at the moment. In this instance I would consider exercise as being more active than usual and then over time begin to compete with my own efforts in order to increase them. Eventually I will be able to return to the gym or other forms of exercise but for now my wee swaps between inactivity and working within my limitations are the best I can do. Good luck with your challenges.

  2. I just taught another personal training workshop this weekend and we address that exact question. Physical activity is any movement that involves large muscle groups and produces caloric expenditure. Exercise is a subset of physical activity in that it must meet those same requirements, but also must be planned, structured, and repeated with the intent to improve one of the 5 components of physical fitness (cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and/or body composition ). That means that walks need to be at least 20 minute bouts at at least 50% of Heart Rate Reserve.

  3. Honestly, I no longer consider exercise something I need to include in my life.
    I practice yoga. Some days hot moving yoga, where I move my body and have the intention of celebrating life. Some days restorative yoga where I’m more concerned with using my mind. Some days I teach, so I’m mainly still as I usually teach yin.

    My body likes to move. I get up and stretch. I do a few poses regularly over that day. I try to put my legs up the wall at least once.

    Somehow it all works out.

  4. I simply try to get “30 minutes of exercise” at least 5-6 days a week as well. I typically consider anything where I’m moving so some days 10 minutes of my movement comes from buzzing around the grocery store, if it’s not busy & I really am moving. Most days I try to make it more intentional movement, guess it depends how gracious with myself i’m feeling. If I’m doing a restorative yoga class, I try to at least get a little bit of another type of movement in that is more active.

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