I was sitting around the table talking with a few friends and one mentioned how difficult it was for him to stretch. He realized the benefit of a few quick stretches and exercises but didn't like doing them. "Honestly, I only do them when I am hurting and the week afterward. Once I feel good I stop."
Another friend at the table quickly responded, "Wait another 10 years and you'll do them so you won't feel terrible." Apparently John had a series of stretches and exercises that he had been doing for a few years. I never pictured John doing yoga, so I had to ask a few questions.
Apparently he had had a few severe episodes of low back pain. He had been given exercises and stretches each time, which he quickly stopped doing after therapy. After one episode a friend talked him into going to yoga for a month. He was promised after one month he would love it and feel great. He agreed to go three times a week for one month (I do believe there was a financial wager and penalty involved, but John smiled and didn't clarify the specifics).
After one month, John's back felt stronger and better. He didn't have the stiffness in the morning and wasn't as sore sitting at the end of the day. In the past his back would stiffen up after running. After a month of yoga he could run without post exercise stiffness or soreness.
He believed and felt the benefits of yoga but hated going. It just wasn't for him and he stopped. A few weeks later he began to feel stiff in the morning and soreness after runs.
John is a smart guy and did not wait for the next flare up to take action. He developed a 10 minute routine combining his therapeutic exercises and a few yoga poses that provided the greatest stretch and relief. The truth is he started with a 20 minute routine that was better but he would frequently skip it because of time. He then developed a five minute routine that wasn't providing enough relief. His 10 minute routine was a balance of time and effectiveness.
John struck a balance between something he didn't like doing on a daily basis but needed to maintain his back health. His exercises are a great balance of light stretching and core strength. The amount of core exercises maintains a strength and muscle coordination level that meets his requirements. His daily routine is enough to balance his sedentary job, past back injuries, and age to significantly reduce his risks and bouts of low back pain.
Consistent balance of exercise and flexibility is the key. Trying to base your exercise on something you hate will never work. You will stop. It is better to do something you like, so that you will keep doing it. However, sometimes a balance has to be struck to incorporate a few less fun activities that provide key exercise components.
Because of John's compromise he is able to do more physical activity with less pain. He has better strength, muscle coordination, and flexibility than his peers. Not to mention a lot less pain.
Find something you like and are willing to do to maintain your back health.