What’s in a workout? Just about anything

This year I signed up for the Facebook group 218 Workouts in 2018.  Samantha, Cate, and some of their friends are members, and I decided to join in. The premise is simple: you list workouts you do, numbering them, and post them to the group page. Sometimes people add pictures (which I really like), and one person offers fun commentary on her workouts that I enjoy. Here’s one of her latest:

12 km bike 2km treadmill and 7000+ steps all over downtown chasing down fuses to fix the oven cause it’s fall, and all the things can be roasted, don’t cha know!

Yes, I do know.  Hope you find those fuses and get roasting soon!

I’m currently at 171 of 218 workouts for the year. Making the goal will require focus and commitment, but it’s doable.

You may be wondering:  are there any guidelines for what counts as a workout for this group? The answer is: nope. A workout is whatever you say it is.

It’s been fascinating following the activities and adventures in exertion of the folks in the group.  Some of them are into cardio and HIIT workouts in the gym. Others are cyclists, runners, paddle boarders, and we even have at least one curler in the group (they are mostly/almost all Canadian, after all). They do weight work, dog walking, hiking, everyday exercise (moving, lawn care, hauling stuff to and fro), yoga at home and at studios, and even aerial hoops and silks classes (that’s not me… yet…)

I like this a lot. All this diversity and freedom of activity means I get to define what a workout is.  That is:

  • What counts as a workout for me;
  • what counts as a workout for me that day;
  • what counts as a workout for me given how I’m feeling that day.

(I hope people don’t mind all the bulleted lists I’ve been using lately.  My mind has been in a bulleted list mode lately).

This year–2018– has been a year of ups and downs for me physically.  I had pneumonia in January, which lasted a good while.  The spring and summer went well, but then in September I turned my ankle and fell down some stairs, resulting in a bad sprain.  Then 9 days later I got diagnosed with a DVT– deep vein thrombosis.  I had developed a blood clot in my mid-thigh.  Blech. I’m on blood thinners for the next 3–6 months.  I’m grateful for the existence of and access to new anticoagulants, which will fix my condition, but it’s really slowed me down.

However, I still have workouts! They are tailored to what I can do, what I want to do, and what I want to have done (these last two things are quite different, you will agree).

When I was really down and out with the sprain plus DVT, I just did some easy yoga on my bed, mainly because I couldn’t get up from my mat very easily by myself (I was using two crutches).  That was my workout, because it took some effort just to make sure I got some purposeful movement.

Soon I moved to using my mat at home. With the start of physical therapy, I redefined my workout to be 20–30 mins of yoga at home plus ankle exercises.  This coming week, I’m adding in 15-30 minutes on my bike trainer (as that’s what I do at the physical therapy place).

I really like this. What I’ve realized is that, for me, “workout” means:  some activity that doesn’t just happen on its own (it has to be planned and implemented); something that I want and like to do; and something that is not super-easy for me to do; it represents some sort of challenge that I want to take on, whether it’s strength or duration, or focus on least favored muscles or body parts, or stretching, or whatever. Or, on days when I simply can’t set aside time for a special movement, I can add on extra everyday exercise– like airport walking (or walking anywhere).  All of it counts.


Readers, what does “workout” mean to you? Do you distinguish it from everyday movement?  Is it separate, or do you add it up (like counting steps)?  I’d love to hear from you.








4 thoughts on “What’s in a workout? Just about anything

  1. I like your approach! I’ve never joined the Facebook group, but I’ve been following this workout counting method since it was mentioned on this blog last year and I really like it. Anything I do with intention or out of the ordinary generally counts. I’ve been working from home the past year, so walking even a mile or two often counted as a workout because it was an effort to get movement. Sometimes very gentle yoga of even ten or fifteen minutes counts. Other days it’s a five mile hike! But I love the idea of getting people more focused on the frequency of activity than the exertion or “purity” of it.

  2. I think I might be a bit rigid in my definition of workout. My attitude adjustment is a work in progress! But I also know that all my other “movement that’s not a workout” does need to be counted somehow, because I certainly do a lot of cycling and walking as transport and it takes energy. Also, why not feel good about those moves?!

Comments are closed.