Physical activity has always been something that I believed important to me. I was a very active kid when I was in school. I loved playing any sports with my brothers or friends, especially soccer, basketball or table tennis. Every Sunday we played soccer with my dad and friends and connected through sport.
One of my most beloved memories is running onto the soccer pitch for training late at night, with all the lights blazing on the field and my breath steaming out. On those cool winter nights with the cold air in my lungs I felt like I could run forever, that there were no limits! Every time I think back to that time it makes feel so happy.
And because I had my health, I suppose I took it for granted. But after moving away from home, I found myself, bit by bit, losing the fitness I had so enjoyed in my youth.
It was only many years later trying to play some games with my nephew that I realised how badly out of breath I was after running a few metres. That didn’t lead to me getting fitter though as I really disliked exercise for the sake of exercise! If I tried to go running all I could think of was how many steps until it would be over.
So, on a whim years later I bought myself a doorway chinup bar. I’d always avoided strength training after a slightly negative experience, but I wanted to see what I could do with it.
A few weeks later I was in love! The feeling of pushing myself and getting stronger every day was an amazing feeling! It made me feel like I did on those cool winter nights in my youth. That my body could do anything, if I only pushed it hard enough.
I thought of the exercise not really in terms of health, but more out of enjoyment, and wanting to get that enjoyment back again. It reminds me of a quote from Socrates:
No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of what his body is capable.
And this from Socrates, who most people wouldn’t think of as concerned with physical strength as, say, the main guy from 300 (Leonidas – thanks Wikipedia)!!!
But it was only when I was assisting at a medical centre that I began to see the problems with not exercising. Most of the middle aged and older patients had serious health problems, ranging from diabetes and heart problems, aching joints to back pain.
And these problems almost exclusively existed, or were much worse, in those patients who did not exercise.
It led me to look in to what Islam had to say on the matter, which was that first and foremost our bodies have a right over us.
Our bodies and our health are gifts that we need to care for, rather than take for granted. Health and nutrition play a key role in achieving and maintaining a healthy body and mind, but that will be another post! Instead in this post I wanted to talk about the importance of exercise, any exercise! And to motivate myself to keep striving as everyone needs motivation!
The important thing is to find a kind of exercise that makes you feel good and happy.
For me, I really want to love running, but I just don’t. Instead of trying to run over and over and being miserable every time, try something different. Especially something you thought you could never do. I never thought I could get stronger, but within a few months of starting to train I had achieved things I never imagined I would!
It is also really important to get others involved as well.
Recently Marryam and I had a challenge with a group of our friends to do at least 10 minutes of high intensity interval training (HIIT) every day for 60 days. It was really challenging trying to find the time every day to do them, but at the same time it was a whole lot of collective fun and most of us completed the whole 2 months and reported back feeling fitter and stronger 😀
These days there are so many fantastic online and local exercise communities that are friendly and supportive such as on Reddit fitness. In this era we really have few excuses for not doing some type of exercise, and a need possibly greater than ever to do so.
So let’s all set ourselves a challenge and do our best to achieve it! Mine is to try and complete the Bar-Barians Requirements. We’d love to know what your goals are, or if you think we should do a group fitness challenge (!!), leave a comment or send us a message!