Exercising Your Body & Your Patience

January 02, 2013

As a regular gym-goer, every year in January I experience what I call the “New Year’s Influx.” We’ve been plagued throughout the month of December with messages about New Year’s resolutions to live healthier lifestyles, of which physical activity is a vital component. As a result, the population of my gym grows exponentially as people act on their resolutions to exercise.

This gives me the chance to exercise my own New Years resolution: patience!

Whereas usually during my post-work workout, treadmills and ellipticals are easy to come by, now it’s a fight to claim one. And if you’re lucky enough to get one, you get the stink-eye if you’re on there for one second over the thirty minute limit. In spite of the added stress that this causes, as a health educator I always find it refreshing to see a mass recommitment to self-care. Inevitably though, by the end of February, the influx dies down. This phenomenon raises two questions:

  1. For the regular gym-goer, how do you exercise your patience during these high volume times?

  2. For those newly recommitted gym-goers, how do you keep up the motivation to exercise?


Exercise helps burn off extra negative energy but when the gym is what’s causing your stress, where do you go?

  • Try a different routine: Hit a yoga studio, swim laps in a nearby pool, or take a run in your neighborhood.

  • Break up your exercise routine into smaller chunks: Instead of spending an hour in a crowded gym, stay there for twenty minutes using the equipment you don’t have access to anywhere else then try one of the routine ideas above that take place outside of the gym.

  • Go to the gym at quieter times of the day. Break up your day with a noontime run!

  • Keep your mind off the extra crowds with calming music or an engaging magazine article.


The tips I just mentioned are also great ways to keep you motivated to exercise throughout the year but don’t forget the Five Ws:

  • Boredom is a huge threat to motivation so keep it interesting. Think outside of the box (and the gym!) Find out what you like to do and where you are comfortable doing it. If you don’t like running on a treadmill but you love gardening, garden more! Then do ten squats before you kneel down to weed your flower bed!

  • Don’t just commit to exercising; commit to changing your lifestyle. If you know why you are resolving to changing your lifestyle (“I want to get my blood pressure down”) then each time you set out on a run, for instance, you’re working towards more than just the goal of distance or time. (Note: “Because I want to eat another donut” is not the healthiest why.)

  • Find friends, family members or trainers who will keep you motivated and on track with your resolutions.

  • Set a regular time when you will exercise. Creating a schedule will help you commit to sustained healthy changes in your lifestyle (“I can’t do happy hour tonight because I’m going to my weekly Zumba class.”)

Even though my gym starts to resemble a sweaty sardine can during the month of January, it’s a great place for me to exercise my patience and to witness a welcomed renewal in healthy decisions among my peers. Who knew that you could build mental and physical muscle at the gym? But it’s not the only place to do so, so take these tips and remember your Five Ws to help maintain your resolution to live a healthier lifestyle.

(And for other tips to help you stick to your resolutions, check out other classes and resources available at Swedish.)