Sunday 18 February 2018

Exercise but also remember that rest sharpens your axe

Find an alternative form of exercise that doesn't aggravate the injury and keep an exercise routine going
Find an alternative form of exercise that doesn't aggravate the injury and keep an exercise routine going

Declan Coyle

Every now and then someone gets in contact that is desperate for guidance.

The following e-mail that arrived was one of those. "I need some motivational help. I'm a kind of an all-or-nothing person. When I'm training and exercising I just keep telling myself that it's mind over matter. And I go and I go and I go.

"But then I get overwhelmed. Burned out and I give up altogether. Can you help me get back on track and stay on track?"

We had a chat over the phone. First I told him to look at the recent trends in Ireland. A study on ageing showed that almost 80 per cent of people over 50 are either obese or overweight.

We are not only eating too much but we are also drinking far too much.

I'm in China at the moment and they say that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. So if we want to get different results, we have to do different things. Here too they are beginning to face the huge challenges of obesity and diabetes from being overweight. It's a sad by-product of their increasing wealth. So my challenge was to get my e-mailer to return to regular exercise and this time to stick with it. I told him the following story:

Once there were a group of men, a young hot-blooded man and a number of older men, cutting down trees in a forest.

This young man was very hard-working. He continued to work through his break-time and complained that the old men were wasting time, having a break a few times a day to eat, drink and chat.

As time went by, this young man noticed that even though he worked through break-times and hardly ever took a rest, those older men were chopping many more trees than he was. It was as if those old men worked through the break time as he did. So he decided to work harder and harder by taking no break at all. Still the results were the same.

One day, one of the old men invited him for a drink during their break-time. That young man refused and said he had no extra time to waste talking to them. Then the old man smiled and said: "It is just a waste of effort to keep chopping trees without re-sharpening your axe. Sooner or later you will give up or be totally exhausted because you have spent too much energy."

Suddenly the young man realised that during break-times while those old men were chatting, they were also re-sharpening their axes. That's how they could chop faster than him and yet spend less time working.

The old man said: "What we need is efficiency by making use of our skill and ability intelligently. Only then can we have more time to do other things."

First you breathe in. Then you breathe out. You can't breathe out all the time. By taking a break from your exercise you feel fresher, think and work better. Taking a break does not mean that you stop taking exercise, but it does give you the time to rest, recover and rediscover your freshness.

Take time to sharpen your axe.

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