I’m going to go against all conventional blogging wisdom and disappoint you in the very second sentence of this blog post. I’m not going to tell you how to maximise your exercise efforts. You’d be perfectly entitled to stop reading right this moment. Or you could keep reading. The choice is yours.
Maximising your exercise efforts implies one important fact: that you’re exercising regularly in the first place. If exercise is not yet a habit, any efforts to maximise this exercise will actually create minimal change for this very simple reason: you can’t maximise something that you’re not even doing.
At it’s core, Pooch Patrol is a selfish project – one for me to figure out how I can live a healthy life. I have the same problems as everyone else. I struggle with motivation. I struggle with being held accountable. Like you, I want to maximise my efforts. But I also realise that my “efforts” can be sub-optimal in the first place. So I don’t want to waste any more time than neccessary processing information that doesn’t solve the actual problems that I’m facing.
A quick search on the Internet on the topic of exercise maximisation says things such as the following. Maybe you’ve heard some of them:
- Working out is pointless if your heart rate is not in the optimal zone.
- Repeatedly doing the same exercise decreases effectiveness.
- Walking is not enough to make any difference.
A few years ago, I decided I wanted to get a bike. I figured a new toy would encourage me to exercise more. When I get ideas like this, I go all in. I researched the entire Internet to find the very best deal, and the very best bike. I became willing to spend a larger amount of money than I would previously because I wanted to maximise my value for money, and value for leg power.
The thing was, I already had a perfectly functioning bike, I just wasn’t using it much, definitely not to the extent that I imagined I would use the new one. It was an older bike. It was a slower bike. It wasn’t as effective. Up until this point, I had blamed the bike for not being used. It was at this moment of realisation that I made a deal with myself. If I could prove to myself that I could create time in my life to use a bike, no matter how sub-optimal it was, then I would reward myself with a “new” (second hand) bike. And so I did. And something weird happened.
I went from hardly riding my bike, to riding it all the time. I didn’t concern myself with my heart rate. It didn’t bother me that I wasn’t “mixing up my workout regime.” And after a few months of doing this and proving it had actually been me holding myself back from exercise, I found a second hand bike to upgrade to. I felt the difference it made. Having done my time on the less effective bike, I really appreciated the difference. I went from hardly riding, to riding it nearly every day.
Based on my theory, yes, I could now probably start focusing on optimising my efforts. Now that exercise is becoming a habit, I could start measuring my heart rate. I could start doing other sorts of exercise to achieve a maximum gain from my efforts. But at this moment of my life, I’m not concerned about this. Once I finish writing this, I’m going to go for a ride. Solely because I enjoy the simple act of riding my bike. Nothing more, nothing less.
Our lives are getting increasingly busier. We feel the constant need to optimise our time. To be more productive. To get the most out of our efforts. The problem is, this overanalysis can also paralyse our efforts. Things all of a sudden seem a lot harder than they actually are, and we end up doing nothing at all.
If going for a walk doesn’t seem “worth it” to you, try proving yourself wrong. If you can achieve this habit, then progress. If you can’t achieve a daily walking habit, then you may have other problems. At this stage, you’re not being optimal, you’re being optional.
You’re perfectly entitled to continue your personal research into the very best ways to maximise your exercise efforts. Or you can go for a walk today and start forming the habit in the first place. The choice is yours.