Beyond the Mile Run

by Katherine Wright

photography courtesy of Amanda Willis

The mile run is the dreaded yet highly anticipated event that turned exercise into a one-hit wonder. With the exception of the star athletes whose main concern is beating their own records, the mile run is a tribute to the overwhelmed mindset so many of us have about exercise. Being intimidated by working out can create a sense of distance, making the idea of staying in shape seem practically unattainable.

The fact is, most adults in the United States are not getting enough exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 23.5% of people aged 18 and over met the guidelines for sufficient aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises.

Physical activity tends to take a backseat to other parts of life. Maybe it’s a week with four tests, or that essay took a lot longer to finish than anticipated. Things pop up, and sometimes workout routines take the hit. That’s okay. But, sometimes, it’s a little too easy to put off your health in favor of other elements in your life.

“I don’t make excuses as to not going because I know that if I don’t go to the gym, homework will take longer and be harder without having a clear mind,” said Brandy Moser (CAS ’21, SAR ’21).

The value of exercise is undeniable, but sometimes it can be difficult to find the motivation to drag ourselves to the gym. Exercise, just like the mile run, often feels intimidating. We tend to associate the gym with lifting heavy weights or running on the treadmill for an hour.

Instead of starting small, many become so overwhelmed with the cookie-cutter concept of working out that they don’t do anything at all. The good intention of wanting to complete an elaborate workout can be overshadowed by the perceived difficulty of exercise as a result.

However, exercise shouldn’t be such a massive ordeal, especially when starting a new routine. Choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to class or following a dance video on YouTube are all simple examples of staying active.

In addition, it is crucial to dedicate specific time throughout the day for exercise. Whether that means 15 minutes or two hours, designating an non-negotiable spot in your schedule will help solidify exercise as a habit.

“It can be easy to fall into the trap of being too busy, but if you set it as a priority you’ll realize that you can actually make it work,” Moser said.

After consistently starting the day with yoga, choosing the stairs or spending 15 consecutive minutes on the treadmill, exercise starts to feel a little less intimidating. You can look forward to a designated time away from homework to release stress, feel accomplished and feel healthy.

Have fun with it, mix up your routine, and find ways to be active even when you don’t have the energy for a full hour at the gym. Exercise shouldn’t begin and end with the structured and painful middle school mile run. No one wants that.