Fact: we exercise to be healthy. For some of us this means weight loss. For some of us this means looking toned. For some of us this means reduced stress. For some of us this means being fit and strong.

No matter what our own personal reason or justification is for exercising, we are all doing it because we want, underneath it all, to be healthier and happier. The question is, though, when we embark on these goals, do we consider the sustainability of our actions or the durability and changeability it'll be creating within our tissues and in our bodies?

In my eyes, exercise and movement should be an ever-evolving continuum of change, variability, and adaptation across our lifetimes. When we start a training or exercise programme we need to be honest with ourselves about where we're starting from and what we're starting with, and sensible about what we should or shouldn't be doing.

Finding the ideal entry point for us is key, and like most things, sensibility and moderation is the best path. There are two paths that I strongly suggest you avoid:

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The more is better road

In the more is better option it's naturally assumed more is better, harder is better, faster is better, sorer is better. Photo / Getty Images
In the more is better option it's naturally assumed more is better, harder is better, faster is better, sorer is better. Photo / Getty Images

This is where the finish line is sought with levels of desperation. And it's naturally assumed that more is better, harder is better, faster is better, sorer is better.

This path will often lead to too much, too hard, too fast, too soon, and too many niggles and setbacks will be encountered as a result. This can lead to frustration and even early retirement from the original goal.

Further, our bodies weren't designed for this level of regular physical aggression. We weren't made to be pushed physically to our extreme four, five or seven times a week.

Physiologically, the recovery from this extreme physical behaviour places major stress upon our bodies. It isn't a sustainable way to move.

The less is more road

This is where we may feel overwhelmed with all the various options, and we succumb to paralysis because we literally don't know where to start.

The less is more road is where we may feel overwhelmed with all the options, and we succumb to paralysis because we don't know where to start. Photo / Getty Images
The less is more road is where we may feel overwhelmed with all the options, and we succumb to paralysis because we don't know where to start. Photo / Getty Images

It can also be that there's a discomfort associated with not understanding our individual baseline and therefore unsure about the capacity or level at which we should start.

This might mean that we don't give our bodies enough stimuli for our bodily systems to change and adapt. Like the first point, this can also lead to frustration and a discontinuation of the goals we initially were seeking.

So, where to from here?

If this is a completely new path for you, seek help! There's an abundance of fitness and movement professionals out there who would love to help guide, support and inspire you as you embark on this new adventure.

Regardless of your personality, experience, limitations, or goals, there will be somebody out there who is perfectly suited to understanding your body and your own individual needs.

If you've been on this path before, all I suggest is being sensible. Don't bust your gut on day one, or in the first week.

Give the body time to adjust; it has memory, it'll all come flooding back. But by treading the path in a considerate and consistent way, you will get the gains and changes that you are after.

It's a funny thing to realise, but we each have our own movement personality – the types of ways we enjoy moving the most. Some will like strength training, others will like walking in nature.

Some will like stretch-type activities, others will like high-intensity interval training. Some will like team sports, others will enjoy playing games but in a non-competitive environment.

It literally is different strokes for different folks. Have a ponder about what you're most drawn to, what you're most motivated to participate in, the things that you want to repeat time and time again.

Those are the things your body and mind enjoy most – and we need to appreciate the impact that enjoyment (or lack of) has on our body's ability to create the changes we're after, as well as our long-term adherence to regular movement practices.

And the things we like and enjoy will evolve over time as we recognise the natural evolution of changes that occur within our body, and as other health goals become our priority.

One of the most important things to keep in the back of your mind is that the more ways in which you move and play, the more variations of movement, load, ranges of motion, tempo etc that you throw at your body, the more resilient it'll become, and the greater the amount of durability you are creating in your body for life.

Durability is the ability to withstand wear and tear on the tissues, joints and human systems. Sustainability is being able to choose ways to move that can be aligned with the body's innate ability to absorb the stimuli asked of it via movement, and repair and heal itself in time to be faced with it again.

Sustainability is making choices that are healthy for both body and mind, and that can be withstood over time with no major setbacks.

&bull: Corinne Austin is a health coach and movement motivator (corinne@fitfixnz.co.nz ).