Risk Vs. Reward in Choosing your Exercises
One of my favorite phrases these days is “Risk vs. Reward.” I also think in terms of the potential risk vs. the potential reward. This idea is most commonly mentioned in investing and sports, but we actually make decisions based on risk vs. reward multiple times a day. Should I cross the street right now or wait until that car passes? Should I take the stairs to my office or take the elevator? Should I eat that dessert or not? Some of these decisions may not entail an immediate risk or result in an immediate reward. The results, positive or negative, of our decisions are often delayed.
When it comes to exercise selection we should always ask ourselves at least two questions:
- What is the purpose of this activity for me in this moment? (Reward)
- What are the short-term and long-term consequences of doing this activity? (Risk)
This is individually specific to you, and you must not group yourself into a general category. You can’t compare a 22-year-old college athlete attending a Cross-fit gym for the first time with a middle-aged man who has never set foot in a weight room in his life. The risks of injury and the potential rewards could be far greater for the latter.
When thinking about exercise, these are the kinds of questions you might be considering when weighing risk vs. reward:
- How far do I walk or run today?
- Should I do a set number of push-ups or should I go until I can’t do anymore?
- Do I work out at 10 pm when I know it will impact my ability to get to sleep that night?
- Do I need to take a day or two off to let my body rest?
- Should I throw the ball around with my son, even though my shoulder is hurting a little?
- Do I sign up for a marathon when I don’t have the time to train as much as I need to just to motivate me to run?
Carefully thinking through what you do for fitness and asking yourself why you are doing a particular activity will often lead to the best potential outcome.
Being honest with yourself along with erring on the side of caution can be the difference between successfully achieving a goal and getting injured.
All of this is to say that exercise is very beneficial, but in order to reap the rewards of an activity performed properly under the right conditions, it’s important to consider the risks if it is not.
An important benefit to working with an experienced certified personal trainer is that they can help you navigate these risks and rewards during a workout. They will guide you in the right direction for your weekly exercise program and ensure that you stay within your limits during your workouts with them.