Earlier this month I wrote a short article titled Has Your Routine Become a Rut? for the Body Wisdom publication at Medium.com. The article draws on my personal experience managing a body with chronic pain since the age of 19.
Over the years I’ve found that dealing with chronic pain requires a recipe that includes many different ingredients. Unfortunately, no one has ever been able to give me my magic recipe. I’ve had to figure it out for myself. If you deal with chronic pain or any other type of ongoing discomfort my guess is your recipe is not going to be exactly the same as my recipe—although we might share some of the same ingredients. I’ve also found that the right ingredients can change over time.
My recipe currently has four main ingredients:
- Adequate sleep
- Keeping stress in check
- Alexander Technique
As far as movement goes, getting off the couch is the first priority even if I’m in the middle of a pain flare-up. The second priority is that I have variety in my movement—in terms of my daily activities as well as my fitness routine. Very simply my body loves movement and even more, my body loves a variety of movement. As far as my fitness routine goes, I do lots of different activities; I’m also always looking for new things to try.
I started running two years ago after a 30-year hiatus—partly to add variety to my fitness routine. But even within my running, I need variety. I vary the terrain I run on—flat or rolling. I vary the intervals I run and the intervals I walk. If I run around the same lake often, I make sure I don’t always run in the same direction.
One of the readers of my recent Medium article shared how he keeps variety naturally in his routine. He writes:
I’ve found that adjusting routines to natural changing of seasons allows me to seamlessly incorporate variety. For example, in the summer I workout outdoors early in the morning before it gets too hot. In the winter, I end up doing the opposite. Simply changing the timing I end up having a cascading set of changes into my daily routine.
I thought this was wonderful and reminds me of the advice to eat a more healthy diet by eating with the seasons:
Another way to let the seasons help add variety to your fitness routine is to explore outdoor seasonal activities where you live. If you live where there are cold, snowy winters like I do try snowshoeing, winter hiking, or ice skating in the winter. In the summer try canoeing, biking, or Nordic walking. And as you try out different activities remember you don’t have to be an expert at any activity; you might not even like it after you try it once. And if you don’t, there’re lots of other things to try.
An additional benefit of focusing predominately on outdoor fitness activities is that being outside in nature impacts your wellbeing in many positive ways—including reducing stress levels. That’s one reason I do a lot of my exercise outdoors (see my #2 ingredient above).
Move your body. In as many ways as you can. And move with the seasons. It’s great advice.
What about you? Do you incorporate variety into your fitness routine? How do you do it?
P.S. If you like this blog and are craving more information on moving better and feeling better sign up for my e-newsletter. You’ll get a free booklet with tips for exploring your posture (that has nothing to do with standing up straight and pulling your shoulders back. I promise!). And once a month I’ll pop into your inbox with new ideas for you to experiment with. In addition, you’ll be the first to know about any upcoming events, local or online.