Thinking Outside The Box About Exercise

This year is Canada’s 150th birthday, and our big physical activity promotion non-profit, ParticipACTION has put out a list of 150 sports and physical activities that define Canada as a country (voted on near the end of last year by Canadians). While I’m in no way a natural athlete, and usually pretty bad at the sports and activities I try for the first time, I’ve been enjoying approaching activities this year through a different lens—a sort of nerdy, bucket-list sort of approach to trying things. (Well, most things. I’m pretty sure I will not be checking white water rafting off my list, but that would be cool!)

There are some activities that work better for my asthma than others—things involving running are less good, whereas I’ve in the past found things like rock climbing, yoga, and even cycling better choices. The thing I like about the ParticipACTION 150 PlayList challenge, is that it encourages me to think out of the box as to what activities I actually consider physical activity. One of the options, for example, is flying a kite. Of course, flying a kite involves running short sprints in different directions and throwing to get the kite airborne, and moving around to keep it afloat. Would I have ever even thought about flying a kite as exercise? Nope, not really! What about building a snowman? It’s on the list! Pillow fight! On the list! Well, and then there’s stuff like axe throwing. That probably would not be too bad on my lungs, but in terms of general safety for myself and those around me, well, I’m a little concerned about checking axe throwing off my list ;).

[caption]Playing goalball (one of the first activities I did this year which happens to be part of the 150 PlayList), a sport for blind athletes which requires all players to wear eyeshades and rely on the sound of the bells inside the ball. I usually coach, but playing might be more fun![/caption]

Staying motivated to be physically active is really hard. I’ve written about this before, but it’s worth saying again: having asthma makes it even harder to keep motivated. It’s hard to do something that you may not especially enjoy, but even harder when you don’t know how you’ll feel after. I get that! But, that’s also why it’s so important to try new things, figure out what you like (and don’t like), and what works best for your asthma—and what you enjoy. Just because, say, croquet is probably a fairly asthma friendly activity, it doesn’t mean I necessarily want to be playing croquet all the time. It’s been a few years since I’ve been rock climbing in a gym (sadly!), except for a quick stint bouldering back in the Fall, but this is one activity that I never really considered would be a fairly successful choice in terms of my asthma. You can take climbing at your own pace, if you need to hang out on a rock for a second and rest hey that’s cool, and for me, getting my grip was a lot harder than dealing with my asthma was!

Even if you’re not Canadian, check out the list of activities that Canadians are trying this year. Get inspired and try something new! What activities have you tried (on the list or not!) that are the best mix of being enjoyable for you and working out well with your asthma? Let me know in the comments!

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