Last summer I was cycling in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with a friend. When I suggested that we take a new, different route on our return, he responded: “No, I’d rather go the way I know.” Translation: “Leave me alone, I don’t want to change.”
I suggested to a cycling friend that he consider obtaining a small rear-view mirror to go on his glasses or helmet. Those of us who have one wouldn’t cycle without it as it improves our safety significantly. He had no interest in trying it, even when I offered to give him one. He had a similar response to the idea of installing a rear flashing light, which I also wouldn’t ride without. Both represent a change.
My experience is that young people are generally open to new ideas and ways of doing things. As we age, we get more set in our ways. The problem is that our brains are not exposed to new information and techniques that generate new synapses, or connections.
Let’s apply this to exercise. We have a group of regulars at my fitness center. Most of them do the same exercises at the same pace every time. Their brains go on cruise control; no new synapses, no new connections.
I’ve been exercising for a number of years and have a large list of exercises to choose from. But, left to my own devices, I tend to choose favorites from the list. While I vary the daily routine, it’s done within a narrow range.
Several years ago I committed to using a trainer twice a month. In addition to ensuring that I perform exercises in the proper manner, Sue regularly introduces me to new ones. Recently we’ve focused on new balance exercises as well as more stretching to increase my range of motion. I can feel the difference in both in a short period of time. I can – almost – feel the new synapses.
If you don’t choose to use a trainer, think about how you can change your daily routine to incorporate new ideas. It’s easy to access new exercise ideas on Google. Just type in the category, like “balance exercises,” or “strength training,” and you’ll be offered a wide variety.
This applies to other activities as well. Recently a friend invited me to attend a Florida Gulf Coast University basketball game. My first reaction was to turn it down. I was tired and had a long bike ride scheduled for the next morning, plus I’m not a basketball fanatic. I then thought about it and agreed to go. We had a very enjoyable evening.
In a few minutes I’m taking my dog Kip for a walk. I think I’ll try a new route.