“To enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise.” — Gene Tunney
Exercise is beneficial- no one will dispute that. But the fact is that only 33% of adult Americans are making it happen. So what is hampering the other 66% of individuals? What is getting in the way of a consistent exercise program that includes 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of aerobic exercise each week?
There is no doubt all of us could throw out several reasons why we skipped a trip to the gym or passed on the walk, but sometimes it is just not appealing. These are the 5 Most Common Excuses I know! Exercise requires some work, energy, time, exertion, and even a little sweat.
Most of the people I have met and counseled would say that it was “worth it” once the exercise was over but the most difficult part was getting up and starting, making the time for it and getting over the dread of “having to do it.” To find the ‘want to,’ you have to dig deep.
The health benefits of exercise are reported frequently on the news and from our healthcare providers, but until we make the knowledge personal, it is just information. It is the difference between cognitive knowledge and belief. When I believe that information, it has power and I understand it has the capacity to transform my life. MY life.
What if your body told you ‘thank you’ for exercising, in a variety of ways? What if every time we invested our time and energy in physical activity, we believed…knew… we would get a return? Well, your body does just that! It thanks us for caring for it.
These are 7 ways our body says “Thank You” for exercising…
Simply stated, exercise burns calories…
The more you do, the more calories you burn.
The more energy you exert doing the exercise, the more calories you burn.
The longer you go, the more calories you burn.
The less exercise you do, the harder it is to maintain your weight. People who are proactive about maintaining their weight consistently exercise. According to the National Weight Control Registry, an ongoing weight loss study that includes thousands of participants that have lost at least 30# and maintained at least 30# weight loss for 1 or more years, reports that 90% of these successful individuals exercise for an average of 60 minutes per day. Want to learn more about effective weight loss? This article shares Effective Habits of Those Who Lost Weight & Kept It Off.
Enhances Sleep Quality
Do you ever feel like a walking zombie? Is it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep each night? Research from 2005-2010 conducted by the CDC reports that 50-70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders and deprivation and about 4% use prescription sleep aids. And, this number is likely to have increased, now, several years later.
Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep AND get better quality sleep. Research also shows that it may help reset the sleep-wake cycle. Going out for a walk or jog, heading to the gym for a workout, or pulling up a favorite workout on the internet may be the perfect non-pharmaceutical sleep aid. It won’t cost you a dime! And, the only side effects you will notice will be better mental clarity the next day!
Improves Your Mood
Do you ever have a “blah” day? The ones where you can’t put your finger on what is the matter but something is hampering your joy and sense of fun? Exercise is the solution. Your body will not be able to hold back producing hormones that improve your mood, help you relax and make you feel great! Don’t believe it?! Test this research out.
Your body was made to move and it will practically shout with delight when you do. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, some research suggests that moderate exercise (ie. walking) has the potential to improve your mood for up to 12 hours!! And the research is showing that it doesn’t matter what kind of mood– irritable, angry, sad, etc- the effects remain consistent. Physical activity, even if only just 1 walk, has the power to change the tone of your entire day!
Boosts Your Energy
While this may seem counter-intuitive, if you are feeling tired, physical activity can give you an energy boost. Many Americans medicate their fatigue with caffeine and sugar to stimulate and give them the jumpstart they need to plow through the rest of the day’s events. But we can save ourselves some calories, crazy blood sugar highs, and caffeine headaches by grabbing our tennis shoes and water bottle to go get moving.
Exercise pumps oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and tissues to help them work efficiently. This gives you more energy for the things that matter most to you. The research is showing that inactive people who begin a consistent exercise routine experience boosts in energy levels during the day. Whether you are an infrequent exerciser, inconsistent exerciser or just need a midday pick-me-up, physical activity will lift your spirits and give you a shot of full-throttle energy, without a warning label.
Ramps Up Your Sex Life
Maybe the spark isn’t gone… you just need to know how to activate it. Sex is active and physical. Cardiovascular exercise prepares your heart and other muscles for physical exertion. Physical activity helps you stay mobile, limber and flexible as you age, all things that can enhance your sexual experiences. Hitting the eliptical or grabbing your yoga mat for the class at your gym can contribute to more intimate fulfillment with your spouse.
Keeps You Mentally Alert
Cognitive decline is common with aging. Memory, judgment, and mental alertness can become more difficult and less acute. Research is showing that physical activity enhances memory and cognitive function at any age, 20 or 80. Harvard Health writes an article about some published research showing that regular aerobic activity, “appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.” Dementia is real and can be crushing. Exercise appears to stimulate new growth of brain cells that help the brain stay healthy and function well.
If you are ever feeling foggy and need a brainpower boost…exercise.
Controls Your Blood Sugar
Exercise improves insulin sensitivity (of your cells) making it easier for insulin to usher glucose from your bloodstream into your cells to be used for energy. Essentially, you need energy to exercise. Therefore, your body works efficiently to make that energy and in return, lowers your blood sugar.
Everyone, diabetics, pre-diabetics and non-diabetics, should work to maintain healthy serum glucose levels.
Your body is grateful you got moving- it reduces your blood sugar and your risk for diabetes. Plain and simple.
Exercise is a discipline like many practices (flossing our teeth, meal planning, budgeting) but it feels like punishment if we don’t find the want-to. Choose to become mindful about how it improves your mood, health, and quality of life. Realizing how it affects the quality of your years can empower you to practice this discipline with a healthy perspective.
Your body will thank you… if you listen.
Instead of dread, accept it.
Instead of ignore, complete it.
Instead of contemplate, do it.
TRUTH: For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline. –1 Timothy 1:7
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in October 2016 and was updated in October 2017 for accuracy.