This started as a conversation over at Spoonforkfuls’ blog.
[…] One of my recurring issues with injuries is finding the line between working out too much and not working out enough….
Yeah, it’s that definition of ‘enough’ that gets me almost every time.
I mean, enough for what, exactly?
In my case? I’m working out enough if I avoid that nice painful feeling that I get on the outside of my right leg when I don’t walk much. It’s enough to keep my right leg lowering me down to the next stair instead of giving way. Enough to keep my lower back from aching by the end of a day at the computer.
I’m not sure if it’s good or bad that I have an answer for that.
On further reflection I think it’s good that I have an indicator, a concrete reminder to get moving. But there’s more to it than that.
First, there’s “not working out enough” and “working out too much”. The problems I described in my comment happen when I’m not working out enough … but also when I’m working out too much. It would be nice if they were more different but oh well!
Second: Bodies tend to be able to do what we ask them to do regularly. When I worked in a day care and ran after 4-year-olds all day, I could be on my feet all day and carry 4-year-olds with ease. Your life may already provide a good balance of activity and ability, or you may have too much activity your comfort. Me? Currently my life allows me to be pretty sedentary. Too sedentary to support everything that I want to be able to do, such as to easily walk a few miles or to easily walk up and down stairs.
I also have luxury of being mostly able-bodied, however temporarily. I have some arthritis in my knees and a history of wrist RSIs, but those are not currently limiting my ability.
As I see it, this leaves me with the following options:
- Decide I don’t care that much about walking a few miles or more than 1 flight of stairs at a time. After all, I obviously don’t need to do that on a day-to-day basis.
- Decide to change my life so that I must do those things to get through the day. For example, I could sell my car and house and move to a 3- or 4-story townhome near a shopping center.
- Decide to exercise enough to support what I want to do, even though I don’t need do to it on a day-to-day basis.
In some ways I’m a bit lucky in that I do get a concrete indicator (pain) when I’m not exercising what I deem to be “enough”.
Here’s the thing, though: What’s enough for me? Is likely not what’s enough for you. You may feel the level of activity you get in a day is fine and not bother getting additional exercise. Or you may training for a marathon. Or you may be trading a manual wheelchair for a motorized one. So much depends on who you are, where your body is at, and what is possible. Then you can look at what you want and whether it’s feasible to get it.
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