A new post over at the New York Times health blog by Gina Kolata, a writer I admire, warns against pushing yourself too far when it comes to exercise. Generally, this hasn’t been my experience with the majority of the population, something that the author agrees with, but on the flip side, there does seem to be a growing trend of people adopting the “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to exercise.
And they’re not choosing “none.” They’re giving it their all. Actually, more than their all, and it’s hurting and wearing them out.
This is timely news for me because my most recent LA Times column looked at how people can continue running into old age as long as they realize they won’t recover as quickly as when they were younger. I also included that “runners manage injury badly.” Coincidentally, I was having some issues with my foot this past weekend and had to be chastised by my wife to take my own advice and not run until it was better. So, I’m going to rest and let my foot get better, even though it’s damn frustrating since I should be training for my first marathon in Los Angeles on March 18.
One of the virtues of exercise I’ve repeatedly praised is that it acts as the best fountain of youth we know. Well, there is a caveat with that. It does the opposite if you’re stupid. Read the above mentioned NYT post to see examples of what I mean by stupid.
Yes, you must push out of your comfort zone in order to improve, but don’t kill yourself, figuratively or literally. Know your limits and push for that wall with tentative fingers to determine how to progress in a safe and reasonable manner. Otherwise, you’re just going to hurt yourself and do more damage.
And just because some instructor or DVD is yelling at you to go harder doesn’t mean you should listen. Listen to your body instead.