I have just spent the last hour running on my elliptical machine. I almost didn't want to stop. It is not that I love the repetitive motion that I perform on the machine (though I don't mind it). It is not even that I love the feeling of my heart beating faster and working up a good sweat (though I enjoy that part). For me, the reason I didn't want to stop running this evening on my elliptical machine is that in front of the machine, I have placed a small television and I was watching a movie as I ran. While I worked up a good sweat, the hour went by without my noticing. I could have stayed on it for another hour but I have other things that I need to get to (like writing this blog!).
The reason I am telling you about my experience on the elliptical machine is because it brings up an important and fundamental point. In order to stick with an exercise regimen, it helps immensely if you can find a way to make it fun for you! And everyone is different.
My wife is amazing in many ways. When she joined a gym with me in New York City a few years ago, she joined an exercise class and found it rather boring. She is trained as a dancer and so she started putting her own dance moves into the movements during the class and soon found she was enjoying herself. Recently, she has been teaching her own class and enjoys creating new movements as well as helping her students achieve a greater level of fitness. These are some ways that my wife has found to work out and make it fun for herself.
What makes exercising fun for you? Perhaps it is playing tennis with someone else. Perhaps it is swimming and doing laps. Ideally, you can find a low-impact form of workout if you are concerned about your joints. Swimming and/or running on the elliptical machine are excellent ways to exercise without putting undo stress on the joints.
Of course, before starting any new exercise program, please talk with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to participate.
If you enjoy your exercise, you are much more likely to stick with it. And sticking with an exercise, or set of exercises, is the only way to achieve lasting benefit from it. Running once a month because you really hate to run and so you never do it is not going to provide you with the enhanced fitness that you are looking for. Once your doctor tells you it is safe for you to do so, find an exercise that you enjoy and then stick with it! Sticking with exercises that you enjoy isn't hard because you are having fun! And exercise should be fun!