by Ian Ingles

Have you ever heard the saying “You’re nothing without your health”. To me this saying always sounded too narrow-minded and negative, however when I really thought about it, I could see that there was truth to it. In simple terms, imagine if you won the lottery but were very sick. Would it be that great? Probably most of the fun things you would do with your jackpot wouldn’t be possible. I guess my point here is that we all should be thinking about and committing some of our energy to our own physical wellbeing. As we get ready to start another academic year, the stresses on us professionally will increase and being in a better state of physical conditioning will only help us be at our best            

How we each get to a higher level of physical wellbeing will look different between us all. Several factors will influence what we do to get to a better place physically. Here are a few that are top of mind for me:

  • Time – some of us don’t have a lot to spare (families, commutes, pursuing further studies, etc.)
  • Interests – many find traditional forms of exercise boring
  • Age – with advancing age, some forms of exercise could bring higher risks of injury
  • Physical limitations – Disabilities or even old injuries may limit your choices

Whatever your situation is, I believe that in most cases we all can do something to better ourselves and our health. Following are some pointers to consider if you decide to commit your self to improving your physical wellbeing.

Suggestions to Consider:

  • Do what works for you. Do what you like doing, make it a habit and you’ll stick to it. Ever try a new exercise routine that’s been highly touted? I bet if you didn’t like it you didn’t stick with it. I know this has been the case for me. If you view it as a chore or a hardship, it won’t stick. Find something that works that you like doing. This can be different for different people. Do it for a few months and you may surprise yourself by acquiring a new habit!
  • Commit yourself to discipline and consistency in what you choose to do. Discipline beats motivation in the long run every time! We won’t be at our best everyday and that’s ok, but as long as we do what we can, we will reap the rewards of consistent training/exercise.   
  • Give yourself 3 hours a week to commit to improving your physical wellbeing. I firmly believe most people can get what they need exercise wise in just a few hours a week if they train/exercise effectively with a suitable level of intensity
  • If you’re starting, start slow and light. Build a base and start to increase intensity, weight, time, etc. slowly.  
  • Get a workout buddy. I’ve worked out alone for many years and also with a partner for certain stretches of time. Having a workout partner can be fun and help motivate you to push yourself that little bit more. This also ups the level of commitment as another person is now expecting you at the gym, the pool, the court, etc. so you’re not likely to bail on the workout!  
  • If you are new to something – say lifting weights – get some help to ensure you are doing things right. This could mean meeting with a personal trainer. Better to start the right way for several reasons (injury prevention, and maximizing results being primary).

Cathy riding her bike on campus

What works for me:

  • Cycling. Honestly, cycling just for the exercise benefits alone doesn’t always appeal to me. Cycling to get from point A to B or to meet a need does. Next time you need to go to the store for something, leave the car keys on the counter and ride your bike to get some groceries! You’ll get some exercise, likely be able to park right at the front of the store, its free and in some cases it might be faster!
  • View your physical wellbeing holistically. Some of us eat very clean but do very little exercise, some of us train hard but then eat junk, some may be incredibly strong, but then gasp for air after climbing a single flight of stairs. Pay attention to all aspects of your wellbeing because they are all connected.
  • Build your plan or approach off of those with the most credibility. I base my lifting and training on the 531 program because it’s a proven program and I really enjoy it. 

Myths to Dispel

  • Strength training with weights is not just for men! Women can see many benefits from strength training with barbells, dumbbells and various other types of equipment found in a weight room.  Increased bone density, better posture, more strength. I have heard some women say they don’t want to lift weights because they don’t want to get big. The female body doesn’t produce the same amount of testosterone as a male, so this is unlikely to happen in most cases.

In the end, whatever you decide to do, make it fun! Add something to your daily routines that you will look forward to and benefit from!

Group of Ryerson SA staff on their bikes in team jerseys after a group ride