Should I join a gym?

For some people it is important to have someone to make sure they exercise. “Hey, Pete! Where were you yesterday? I thought we were working out together.” At times I need this, that’s why I have always enjoyed martial arts training. Martial arts are very hard to learn and perfect on your own. You need a partner to train with and it’s pretty important to have a teacher that can show you the techniques.

Then there are other times when you just want to go for a long run to clear your head. It’s no secret that exercise can help relieve stress.

Rod K. Dishman, PhD, of the University of Georgia, and Mark Sothmann, PhD, of Indiana University’s School of Medicine and School of Allied Health Sciences explain it perfectly in their article with the American Psychological Association.

“Biologically, exercise seems to give the body a chance to practice dealing with stress. It forces the body’s physiological systems — all of which are involved in the stress response — to communicate much more closely than usual: The cardiovascular system communicates with the renal system, which communicates with the muscular system. And all of these are controlled by the central and sympathetic nervous systems, which also must communicate with each other. This workout of the body’s communication system may be the true value of exercise; the more sedentary we get, the less efficient our bodies in responding to stress.”

The choice to join a gym or a class is up to your personal preference. If you are done with being around people all day and you need to escape, it may be best to just get outside and go for a hike, or a run. If you are a social butterfly like I am, you may prefer to go where the people are. I enjoy the social interaction of an exercise class as well as martial arts training classes.

I choose to do both. I feel like having the accountability of the class keeps me from falling off the wagon and spending every evening snacking and watching movies. I also enjoy putting my headphones on and going for a run down a remote trail or in a park. It’s amazing the beauty that nature has to offer.

How neat is that?

They fuel each other as well. When I run it makes me feel better about going to the class. When I go the class it makes me feel more capable of doing the run. That’s why so many athletes use cross-training in their approach to their workouts. Overall fitness is important.

So, join that gym and set some goals on what you want to accomplish. Join a class to have that accountability to be there. Then, get outside and go for that hike or run. Have fun with the outdoors and find enlightenment.