Take the ‘Work’ Out of Working Out

A broader idea of exercise means you’ll probably do more of it, and have more fun
Author: Ian Landau

With the COVID-19 pandemic having shut down gyms across the country, many of us have turned to at-home routines to stay healthy or tried new activities like jogging. Now, as the country slowly moves to reopen, it’s worth rethinking our approach to exercise so we can reap the benefits of physical activity but leave behind our often tortured relationship with it.

We all know by now that physical exercise is as important to our health as eating well and getting a good night’s sleep. But for many, fitting exercise into an already crammed schedule is a challenge. And for people with bleeding disorders, there can be additional worries that certain activities could exacerbate or bring on new problems, such as joint pain.

One way to ensure we get the activity our bodies and minds need to be healthy is to broaden our idea of what constitutes exercise. When we stop thinking about exercise in a narrow way (i.e., as just a way to burn calories or to reshape our bodies), we’re able to see that simply moving regularly in safe ways is what matters most to our overall health.

Many experts now refer to this expanded view of exercise as finding the joy in movement. Putting it into practice means that what counts as exercise encompasses activities that many of us probably haven’t previously considered as working out (see below). These are not only fun and engaging but also good for cardiovascular, brain and joint health no matter a person’s age.

What’s more, instead of stressing about balancing spending time with friends and family while trying to fit in a workout, many good-for-you activities can be done with others, which benefits social and emotional health.

Once we take the work out of working out and make it more joyful, we’re much more likely to not only meet the recommended weekly minimum of 150 minutes of activity, but exceed it. So even if you’re already getting the minimum, you can easily expand the amount of safe physical activity you’re doing without going overboard and risking injury.

How do you start? First, think about what it is you enjoy doing and not what you think you should be doing. What physical activities make you feel good and invigorated? No matter if you’re young or old, if you’re fit or think you’re out of shape, there’s something that involves moving your body that you no doubt enjoy.

If you’re having trouble identifying activities, the ones below can help get you started. As always, check with your physical therapist before beginning any new activities or exercises to ensure they’re safe for you to do.

  • Gardening
  • Hula-hooping
  • Jumping rope
  • Taking the dog on long walks
  • Playing tag
  • Playing hide-and-seek
  • Playing kickball
  • Going on a scavenger hunt
  • Playing table tennis
  • Climbing trees (but be sure to check with your PT first)
  • Walking more
  • Doing errands by bike or on foot
  • Dancing
  • Doing yoga
  • Hiking
  • Doing tai chi
  • Kayaking

For more movement ideas, and details on the benefits and risks of dozens of sports and activities for people with bleeding disorders, check out the National Hemophilia Foundation’s guide Playing It Safe: Bleeding Disorders, Sports and Exercise.