How To Stay Fit When You Hate Running

How to stay fit… when you hate running

In military boot camp, when a crew gets in trouble, what do they have to do as punishment? Run. Growing up in elementary school, what did you hate to do in Physical Education class? Run. On your high school sports team, what would the team do if you made too many mental mistakes in the last practice or game? Run.

To be blunt, the mental association, thought, and movement of running sucks for many people! And although many of you may think running sucks, you also probably know that it is a huge part of a well-planned and solid cardiovascular exercise regimen.

You know that cardio work can help lose body fat, improve your health and vitality, lower your resting heart rate, and help keep many diseases at bay by strengthening your immune system.

For most people, it is clear that the benefits of running are good – and sometimes great, if you can do it consistently. The running itself, though, is quite often a miserable undertaking. So, what can you do about it?

Easy – just do other stuff instead of running! After all, in the most simplistic physiological sense, all running really does is get you breathing heavily, and get your blood flowing. In most instance, there is nothing specifically magical about running itself. In fact, running – especially if you do it for long distances on pavement – can be extremely hard on your body.

The joints must absorb a lot of impact, possibly causing long-term damage (if you log enough miles) to the knees, ankles, hips, and occasionally the lower back. Too many steps over the long haul are like too much of anything – bad can come of it as a result of training too strenuously. And the repeated pounding on asphalt can sometimes cause you to get bone bruises in the heels of your feet, too.

So, why not find other activities that get your breathing heavy instead of just getting on the treadmill and mindlessly running until your knees wear down? Try a few of these:

  • Stationary Bike – challenge yourself (while sitting down!) and build leg muscle at the same time. Or, take your own bike out for a spin around the neighborhood!
  • Elliptical Machine – similar cardio benefits to running, but without the wear on your joints. Don’t dawdle though – keep your pace up and keep sweating; it’s too easy to go too slowly on the elliptical machine, where you essentially begin to waste your time.
  • Swimming – one of the absolute best cardio exercises to do – that is, if you can get to a pool. Extremely low impact, and great for the heart, and it’s safe for your joints and muscles!
  • Playing Sports with Friends – exercise needs to be fun for you to stick with the program. Don’t take it too seriously, or else you will lose sight of the reason for doing it in the first place!
  • Calisthenics – remember jumping jacks, push-ups, and all those other exercises you did in grade school? Nothing was wrong with them then, and nothing is wrong with them now; they still work! Channel your youth!
  • Circuit Weight Training – weight training is always good to build muscle, burn fat, and keep a low-impact exercise regimen for joint health! It’s also great to take a break from the cardiovascular workouts occasionally, and mix up your routine with some light weight training.
  • Working around the House – to the men who may scoff at this one, ask your wives – a focused, strenuous few hours around the house and yard is a great way to burn a few calories while being productive! Just be careful about constant bending, lifting, and twisting, and what those motions could mean to your lower back and hips in the long run, from an injury perspective.

People tend to get too over-focused on the specific exercise action itself, rather than the performance and outcome of the chosen action. Try anything that gets you breathing heavily, raises your heart rate to a safe but challenging level, and makes you sweat a little bit and exert some effort!

If it’s fun, active, and helps get the results you are looking for, it works! Focus on what you like doing, instead of trying to punish yourself by getting on the treadmill, just because “you think you should.” Get out there and get fit!

About the Author: Bobby DeMuro is the Founder of FusionSouth, a personal training/sports conditioning firm in Charlotte, NC. He is also the Executive Director of NoFizz Charlotte, a non-profit dedicated to bringing awareness on the importance of proper hydration. He resides on Lake Norman with his 2-year old boxer, Dakota.

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