Without exercise in your life you will never know just how magnificent the human body is. With all the modern advancements marketed to “fix” us, we sometimes forget the power we have, organically, to take care of ourselves. Exercise is not an elective hobby, it is a necessary part of optimizing your life and health. We should all realize by now that exercise is good for us overall, but there are other rewards you may not be thinking about. It’s difficult with all the moving parts we have to juggle on a daily basis to fit in a workout, I know. But exercise is the best time investment you can make for yourself. It’s doubtful that in the majestic blueprints of our creation we were ever meant to be sitting at a desk for 8 hours, but it’s another part of life we can adjust to.We were designed to move! If you take care of your body, your body will take care of you.
1. Restore Your Positivity
A smiling face is perhaps not a reaction you currently have when thinking about rolling off the couch for a jog. I’m going to make a pretty bold statement here but, if working out isn’t making you happy you’re doing it wrong. I’m speaking to myself here too. I can be the biggest culprit of self-criticism if I don’t stay focused on what matters, and that’s health and happiness. If a fitness routine makes you feel continuously insecure about your body, or you find it boring, or it’s excessive, then you need to refocus your goal. Working out should boost your confidence. When you can claim certain facts about yourself (my body is healthy!) you’re better protected from harmful, and fickle, emotional subjections about the way you look. Healthy is beautiful. Period.
Exercise has wonderful restorative properties, it literally increases the production of feel-good endorphins in the brain. Regular exercise, as little as 30 minutes 3-7 days a week can combat depression, anxiety, and greatly relieve stress. Carrying excess weight has been continuously linked to depression. Whether for you that means excess emotional baggage or some extra pounds, staying sedentary in a state of depression makes you a prisoner of it. It will be a fight, but you can take back control. Exercise does amazing things for managing depression naturally. When implemented consistently, the effects of exercise can greatly rival and even exceed those of antidepressant medicines in some cases. (Remember everyone is unique. Never stop taking an antidepressant regimen without first consulting your doctor.)
2. How Old You Feel
Your only as old as you feel!..Right? Well chances are if you aren’t exercising regularly, you don’t feel too spry. Inactivity as well as excess weight are aging your body more rapidly than time itself. Extra weight puts undue stress on your bones and ligaments, not to mention completely drains your energy. A consistent fitness routine will also help fight the yo-yo affect of gaining and losing the same 5-10 lbs a lot of us tend to hold onto. Fluctuating your weight so often stretches out your skin and can result in premature sagging.
Regular exercise not only keeps your body running in peak condition, but your mind as well. According to the Center for Brain Health,“Physical exercise may be one of the most beneficial and cost-effective therapies widely available to everyone to elevate memory performance… research shows the tremendous benefit of aerobic exercise on a person’s memory and demonstrates that aerobic exercise can reduce both the biological and cognitive consequences of aging.” How amazing is it that implementing a simple workout routine can protect your brain from heart-breaking diseases like Alzheimer’s, and increase cognitive function. Your brain can start experiencing the brain changing effects after only about 10 minutes of cardiovascular activity.
3. Strengthen Relationships
Whether it’s a significant other, sibling, or friend, teaming up to exercise with someone close to you has amazing benefits all around. Having a common goal and being able to persevere through difficult challenges strengthen the foundation of any relationship. Exercising together establishes a sense of trust and strengthens emotional bonds.
Teaming up not only makes your relationship stronger, but it will increase the efficiency of your work outs as well. Whether its a spouse that wont stop buying those thin mints, or a friend that insists you get the fried appetizer to split; if the people closest to you don’t have your same fitness goals they can become stumbling blocks. Take turns trying out new activities together. Not only will it keep the relationship exciting, but keep you from becoming bored with your workout routine.
4. Having Children
No you’re not totally off the hook here men. Fertility can be adversely affected in both men and women who are overweight; foods can affect fertility. And when it comes to stress guys, (you know how you tend to keep all those feelings bottled away), it can also wreak havoc on your sperm count. And if were getting right down to it, you’ll want the extra energy and endurance exercise increases if you are, ahem, actively trying to conceive.
For the ladies who plan to become pregnant or who are currently pregnant, preparing for birth without exercise, is like training for a marathon…without exercise. Being fit before pregnancy will help make the entire experience so much more comfortable. You can usually maintain the same level of exertion, (of course not all activities are prego friendly) as you did before you were pregnant.
If you are already pregnant and weren’t exactly the most active before hand, don’t worry. Now is actually a wonderful time to start implementing a fitness routine along with all the other health adjustments. Just remember to speak with your doctor first about any limitations specific to your pregnancy. Regular exercise helps combat morning sickness, help keeps swelling down, and reduces your chance and severity of hemorrhoids, (seriously, that last one should be enough of a reason). Keeping your body strong will not only make labor easier on yourself, getting back into shape and recovery will be much less intimidating. There are also exercises that are great post-pregnancy.
5. Breaking Your Bad Habits
OK, I know what you’re thinking, how greedy am I right? First I want you to start this whole new exercise thing, and now give up what? Well I don’t know actually but I’m sure you do. I’m sure there is some bad habit in your life that you’ve been trying to give up (e.g., staying up all night, smoking, excessive worrying, losing your temper). The fact is stopping is only half the battle. You are going to need to replace that released energy with something new, and exercise is the perfect filler.
Not only will working out keep your mind busy, but working out and partaking in unhealthy habits are pretty much mutually exclusive. It’s extremely hard to do them both at the same time. In fact serious rehabilitation programs for addiction use exercise as an integral part of the recovery process because it is so effective at improving quality of life. Not only is it a positive activity to engage in, but it can actually help restore parts of the brain that have been damaged by dependency to drugs and alcohol.
I know I couldn’t keep a healthy balance to my life without exercise. Tell us about your experience! What changes has exercise made in your life?