Why Fall in Love With a (Balanced) Exercise Program?
There is a lot to love about exercise! Like a trusted friend, you can count on it to always be there to take your frustrations to, and know you will leave feeling better or re-charged and ready to return to living your life, and to keep stretching toward your dreams.
Similar to a good therapy session, exercise can also help you discover the power you have inside, through the choices you make, to consciously melt away any stress or anxiety, to calm your anger, and to regain your composure after an upset — and to do so in ways that grow, empower and nourish you, emotionally and physically.
In some cases, it’s no exaggeration to say that exercise can work instant wonders, not unlike the refresh button on your computer.
(A word of caution, however: Exercise cannot replace professional therapy in dealing with a serious personal issue, trauma, addiction, and so on. It can however work miracles on routine or relatively minor stresses — and in all cases is a great partner to therapy, especially essential in dealing with big stressors.)
Falling in love with a regular and balance exercise routine may be just what you need to energize yourself to live your best life — and achieve the healthy, trim and fit body you want — as a bonus!
Of course, you don’t want to fall in love with just any exercise program. Just as you are more likely to have a great couple relationship when you put some thought into the balance of traits you and your partner need to work together more effectively as a team, such as being honest, fun, great listeners, thoughtful in how you treat one another’s views and aspirations, and so on, you also need an exercise program that is balanced, meaning it includes components for building your endurance, strength, and balance and flexibility.
So, why fall in love with your exercise? Let me count the ways! Here is my list of reasons to enjoy your time exercising and to appreciate it is a tried and true lifelong companion:
1. Exercise gives you a natural high.
It helps you to feel better overall, emotionally and mentally. Most all physical exercise, walking, running, cycling, etc., can powerfully boost your mood and sense of well-being. It works by releasing an array of feel-good hormones in the body.
Studies show, for example, that exercise increases the rate and frequency at which serotonin is naturally released within the brain and body. Known as the happy hormone, high levels of serotonin are associated with happiness and low levels with depression. Serotonin is the hormone that, through exercise, naturally fights depression. Its job is to transmit messages throughout your body that help to regulate your moods, appetite and sleep cycles — all of which are intricately connected to maintaining a positive emotional-physiological state of mind and body. Serotonin levels are also influenced by other factors associated with exercise, such as sunlight and nutrition.
Exercise also decreases stress by lowering cortisol levels and releasing endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killer into the bloodstream. During exercise, endorphins can produce feelings of euphoria, often known as a “runner’s high,” a feeling of well-being that runners feels after a long run. These effects are produced by vigorous exercise sustained for a period of time, at least 30 minutes. Even just ten minutes of moderate exercise, however, can improve your overall mood, increase energy and lower fatigue. Exercise is nature’s way of lifting your spirits and flow of energy.
2. Exercise promotes your physical health and healing.
The reason you get a natural high from exercise is because the human body is made for movement. You are designed to move as part of staying physically healthy and strong.
Studies find that exercise can actually stimulate physical healing processes in the brain and body. Movement is how the body moves stuck energies and activates its powerful capacities to prevent physical injuries, and to heal wounds as necessary.
Vigorous exercise, even more than nutrition, boosts the body’s natural defenses, its immune system. Even low levels of exercise can maintain a healthy immune response. Along with other lifestyle choices, exercise takes advantage of the body’s inner ability to heal itself by stimulating the production of hormones that nourish cells in the body, such as endorphins, and reducing any levels of stress hormones such as cortisol.
Exercise also reduces inflammation and slows down naturally occurring aging processes. Endorphins produced by exercise act like natural antibiotics to reduce inflammation. In sum, exercise heals, maintains, and protects your body from disease and infections.
3. Exercise improves your emotional wellbeing – with no side effects.
Exercise is natures free pill for depression, anxiety and other emotional disturbances. It is the body what hitting the refresh button is on your computer. Studies show that exercise significantly reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety, and other emotional disturbances. It is the natural way to lower depression and anxiety.
When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins. These chemicals are associated with increases in your sense of well-being and relieving pain. As a result, you experience a loosening of the grip of stress or anger on your mind and body.
The effects of exercise have been shown to equal or surpass that of psychotropic medications, with the added benefits that it is natural. Being a ‘natural’ solution, it does not disturb the biochemistry balance of the body as medications do, sometimes with lifelong repercussions. It is a ‘no harm’ alternative that can surpass what drugs can do, particularly, when combined with healthy eating — and other lifestyle changes.
In short, exercise promotes your happiness, reduces stress, and helps you to more effectively deal with challenging situations. Plus, it’s free, and guaranteed to have no side effects! Wouldn’t these alone be reason enough to consider exercise your first choice over drugs?
4. Exercise circulates oxygen, calming the energies of your mind and body.
What does breathing have to do with exercise? The medical benefits of deep breathing practice are now widely recognized by research. When you exercise, your body automatically activates deep breathing, however, to ensure your body gets the oxygen it needs to perform the task at hand.
When you work to build strength with weights, for example, you exhale as you lift the weight, and inhale as you lower it back down. During aerobic exercise, your lungs expand and contract, circulating oxygen-rich blood throughout your body.
In yoga, you mindfully track your inhale and exhale as you focus your attention on moving your body into different positions. All of these practices, in varying degrees, give your body the nourishing benefits of diaphragmatic breathing or deep breathing.
A practice of deep breathing directly affects how you feel. It has a calming, tension-cleansing effect on the mind and body. It increases your ability to focus, and concentrate, and is a great way to regulate anger and reactivity. Several therapy approaches incorporate breathing in dealing with anxiety and panic issues.
Indeed, a practice of deep breathing is vital. It cannot, however, replace vigorous exercise as a critical way your body operates to circulate, and replenish the oxygen supplies to every part of the body.
5. Exercise builds sense of self, confidence, ego-strength.
The gym gives you plenty of opportunities to experience victories, big and small, which can increase your sense of self, mind-body connection, and overall core self–concept and ego-strength.
Every time you do a little bit more, run a little farther, or last a few minutes longer than you thought you could, you’ve won.
In moments when you want to quit, when every part of your body is shouting in discomfort, and yet you don’t give up (providing you don’t overdo it), those are the moments that count the most. You build stamina, endurance, and more confidence, knowing you can hang in there.
It’s an empowering mental boost like no other. The little wins build, and keep building, your confidence.
Perhaps even more exciting, what applies to your exercise regimen, applies to every area of your life. The mental discipline you develop in your workout routines can and does ‘transfer’ to other areas of your personal life and relationships.
More and more, for example, you may find yourself realizing that stewing on personal issues and problems – like stewing on how much you ‘hate’ exercise – is a recipe for derailing your goals. Whining and grumbling lower your energy, hope and momentum, thus, your effectiveness. In moments when you get triggered, or feel tempted to give in to overwhelm or defensiveness, you can condition yourself to focus instead on what you want, the benefits, and why you want them.
In this way, you learn to hang in there – just like you do in your exercise workouts – and to regulate your emotions in moments when you get triggered. You also know that, the more victories you accrue, the more confidence and emotional stamina, flexibility and strength you build.
The more victories under your belt, the better you feel about yourself and life.
So, how can you not fall in love with exercise!?
A balanced program promises you a lifetime of rewards and benefits — to be your loyal companion, always there, faithful and ready to empower the best in you, physically, emotionally and mentally.
It will support you to control your weight, and thus protect you from illness. It will produce positive results for you physically, mentally and emotionally. It will grow the kind of confidence inside you that, in turn, will foster increases in your determination, enthusiasm and belief in yourself.
Making a balanced exercise program one of the loves of your life is a wonderful gift you can give yourself. Take that step, and if needed, here are 12 tips to get started on tying the knot for a lifetime!
So, go ahead. Fall in love and then, yes! Be loyal. Faithful. Each time you exercise, remember to give yourself a mental pat on the back – and totally appreciate the gift you are giving, and give, to your self, your mind and body – and the people in your life you most care about and love.
It’s a gift that never stops giving, and, the returns are many and ongoing, ones you can regularly enjoy for the rest of your life!
Staik, A. (2012). Why Fall in Love With a (Balanced) Exercise Program?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 28, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2012/02/why-fall-in-love-with-a-balanced-exercise-program/