Fitness Only Hurts at the BeginningSome people think that working out has to be miserable. They're wrong. And many of them use this as an excuse to avoid working out, which is even worse.

So today let's dispose of a couple of myths about workout misery -- and find out why serious physical exertion is worth a little bit of well-placed suffering.

The Aches and Pains of Fitness Beginners

Fitness novices often launch into their first workout with some level of nerves about soreness . . . and then a day or two later comes the dreaded DOMS -- delayed onset muscle soreness. Don't be fooled by the dire-sounding name. This is the same thing that most beginners call "being really sore."

Truth #1: DOMS isn't fun.

Truth #2: DOMS doesn't last.

You dose yourself with some ibuprofen, have a soak in the tub, take an easy walk around the neighborhood . . . and go back for your subsequent workouts right on schedule. In a matter of days, the soreness is gone.

Working Out Isn't Endless Suffering

But what about the longer term? If you've never trained consistently toward an athletic goal, you may think of that work as a pure grind. And why would anyone make themselves suffer needlessly?

The truth is that regular training, especially over the long haul, feels good much of the time. The parts that don't feel good are manageable and brief.

More to the point, periodic intense exertion to improve yourself helps you feel better ALL the time. You walk better, you sleep better, you relax better, and you work better. That's the opposite of suffering.

But a Little Agony Is a Good Thing

That said, if you want your training to be really meaningful to you -- I mean beyond the physical benefits -- you have to keep pushing yourself. No, your workouts won't always feel great right when you're doing them. But pushing yourself hard creates at least three benefits:

  • Endorphin release. You've heard of the "runner's high"? It also applies after a hard session of yoga or weightlifting or other training. Your body creates its own rewards for exertion, and you feel great.
  • Better physical capacity. When you push your limits, you get stronger. Faster. More flexible. More explosive. This will help you with everything from better focus at work to a better love life with your spouse.
  • Mental toughness. This is the aspect of training that I understood the least before I got into seriously, but to me -- and many other athletes I know -- it's the most important by far. By pushing yourself to your limits and demanding the best effort from yourself, you find out much more about who you are and what you're capable of. It's an incredible process to undergo. 

So don't be afraid to get started with your fitness program, or to take your existing program to a new level. Find the edges of your current capabilities -- and then extend them. That's where the real adventure lies. 

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CareOne Services, Inc. Life Balance Blogger, Tim Walker Tim Walker

Tim is a writer, marketer, and social media pro living in Austin. He joined CareOne's blogging team as a contributing writer for the Life Balance blog in 2009. As a blogger who has personally overcome debt challenges, he draws from his own experience to provide tips on living a balanced life and keeping fit. You can read more of his thoughts (on fitness and everything else) at his personal blog, What I've Learned So Far. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

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