If you know me, you know I’m not real big on New Year’s Resolutions. I pursue health with a dogged persistence. Year round. But maybe Resolutions work for you. Great. All I ask is that you don’t be one of those people that joins a gym in January, only to fail to show up in February.

Let me put it another way…I’d love to see you join a gym in January. Any gym. Sure, I have my preferences but that opinion doesn’t count for much. It’s important to get started. But it’s more important to stay with it.

It doesn’t matter much what you do — just do something. Not everybody can walk/run for exercise. Not everybody can ride a bike. Not everybody wants to lift weights or hike in the mountains. But you’ve got to find something. You’ve got to find your thing. Something you will continue to do. Again, it matters little what you do but that you do something.

Move. Lift. Stretch. Live. And if you can find a way to have fun doing it, well then you will be much more likely to continue to do it.

I played basketball for most of my life. Played until I was 59. I loved to play. If you’re old enough, you will know what I mean when I say I was a “Basketball Jones.” In times of stress, I could play basketball and all that stress fell away. It kept me moving. I played until way after it could be said “he’s good for a man his age.” It became more of a “can you believe he’s still playing basketball?”

Finally my knees betrayed me and I knew my basketball days were over. Fortunately, I had the bicycle to fall back on and turned my passion to the bike. The bicycle was not so hard on my knees. I found my way to have fun while exercising.

It’s sort of like the old cliché about work: If you can’t tell whether it is work or play, you’ve got it made. Same thing with exercise. If it is always work, you can’t and won’t sustain it. There has to be some element of play to it, some element of joy in what you are doing.

Take hiking in the mountains for example. There are trails that you can be on in 20 minutes from downtown Maryville. Gorgeous trails. All it takes is a good pair of boots and the right clothes, most of which are in your closet. Never been to White Oak Sink? You’ve missed out.

Don’t want to ride a bike on the road? The Greenbelt was originally built for bicycles. And the Cades Cove Loop Road (11 miles) is closed at various times to motorized vehicles, making for a perfect biking venue.

Those that are playing Pickleball tell me that I would enjoy it. I just don’t need another thing to do. If you walk the course, golf can be a bit of exercise. Riding a cart, swinging a club, then riding the cart again to your ball just doesn’t cut it. Sorry.

I’m not saying that you have to always have fun exercising. Sometimes you need to work harder, get out of your comfort zone to get better. Sometimes you have to train so that you can enjoy what you do.

The other huge thing to do is to find a partner. Or several of them. Hiking alone is great for some but is better with somebody. Same for biking. The accountability of agreeing to meet someone to exercise will get you out there when you might not feel like it. Or when the weather is questionable.

If you want to live long and stay healthy, you’ve got to get out there and move your body. Resolve now to start down that path and then focus on staying on it. Don’t waste your time by joining a gym in January only to sleep in during February.

Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Email joeblackdpt@gmail.com to write to him.

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