How many times have you decided to exercise and not taken action? You know exercise is good for you, yet the motivation hasn’t surfaced.
There is definitely a difference between knowing you should do something and wanting to do something, and exercise often gets pushed to the side because quite frankly no one really wants to do it.
The key to exercising, and wanting to exercise, is twofold. The first component to success is to find an exercise that you actually like. No joke, there are probably dozens of exercises that you would find fun and enjoyable. The second component of this is to align your newfound fun exercise options with your goals.
What do you want to achieve by exercising and how do you want it to improve your life?
Rest assured, once you find an exercise or two that you enjoy and you begin to realize the benefits of exercise, you will become a lifetime exerciser. Let’s get started!
#1 Lose Weight and Maintain Weight Loss
You know this already. You know that exercise burns calories. The more you exercise, the more calories you burn. A pound is 3,500 calories. So for every 3,500 calories you burn, you lose a pound.
Initially, when you begin exercising you may see the weight fall off. This is because you’re burning fat stores. If you add strength training to your workouts, you’ll also burn more calories throughout your day because your muscles need extra calories to repair themselves.
The great news is that all exercise burns calories. True, some burn more than others. You’ll burn more calories if you go cross-country skiing than if you play a game of golf. However, the bottom line is that you’re burning calories and moving your body. Do that every day and you’ll lose weight and control weight gain.
#2 Prevent Chronic Disease and Can Reverse Some Diseases
There are several chronic conditions that exercise can reverse, improve, or prevent. For example, many people suffering from arthritis are told to exercise daily. The movement helps reduce pain and improve mobility. However, let’s take a look at three of the most common conditions that people suffer from and how exercise can help improve the lives of people who are impacted.
Type II Diabetes affects millions of Americans and it’s reversible. With proper diet and exercise you can regain your health. If you’re familiar with Diabetes then you know that it happens when your body becomes insulin resistant. Your cells no longer take in glucose for energy. The glucose stays in your blood stream. You end up with high blood sugar and low energy.
Exercise actually stimulates your cells to become more receptive to insulin. They need it to help you continue exercising. The blood glucose enters your cells and your body returns to a more normal level.
When you are active, your cells become more sensitive to insulin so it can work more efficiently. Your cells also remove glucose from the blood using a mechanism totally separate from insulin during exercise.
If you’re looking for an exercise that’s great for your body, try bicycling. It’s easy on your joints and you can ride at any pace that feels comfortable to you. If you struggle with bike seats and comfort, try a recumbent. The seat is more like a chair. Indoor bikes are an option if cycling outdoors isn’t easy for you.
The heart is a muscle, so exercise automatically begins to help your heart get stronger and healthier. Additionally, regular exercise actually helps improve many of the risk factors that cause heart disease. Exercise improves blood pressure and reduces cholesterol, both of which are contributing factors of heart disease.
Several studies have shown that exercise impacts dementia risks. People who exercised daily were least likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s. In fact, it may be the most important thing you can do to prevent dementia. Regular exercise may hold the key to maintaining not only a healthy body, but also a healthy mind.
Try jogging or running. You can cover a few miles in about thirty minutes and it’s a great way to get your heart pumping and your blood flowing to all organs, including your brain. Finding the right shoes for your foot and stride are critical to running pain free.
Tip – If you’re suffering from one of the diseases discussed, make sure to gradually ease into an exercise program. Give your body time to adapt to your new routine.
#3 Exercise Improves Your Mode
You’ve heard of the “runner’s high.” It’s what happens when runners experience a surge of chemicals that are released by the body. The chemicals are called endorphins. They react with the receptors in your brain and accomplish a few wonderful side effects.
One side effect is that you feel less pain. The other is that you begin to feel an intense state of calm. The effects are often described as euphoric and are similar to the feelings generated from the drug morphine. You feel positive and energized. And the good news is that unlike morphine, endorphins aren’t addictive.
#4 Boost Your Energy
Exercise shouldn’t make you tired. It should be something that you do each day that leaves you feeling good both physically and mentally. In fact, exercise forces your body to create more energy. Literally. While it can often be a struggle during a workout and I may feel muscle fatigue, I’m always amazed at how good I feel only a few minutes after I finish a workout. Like I could literally take on the world.
Your cells create more mitochondria; they’re the little organelles that create energy in your cells. The more aerobic exercise you enjoy, exercise that uses oxygen to create energy, the more mitochondria your body makes. It actually creates more available energy.
#5 Get Better Sleep
We just talked about how exercise increases energy. This extra energy production can initially impact your sleep. Some people who begin exercising find that for a short time their sleep worsens. One reason is that they may be exercising too hard. They may be stimulating their “fight of flight” response, which can leave you feeling jittery.
However, over time – even if you’re embracing intense workouts – your body begins to mute the stress response. Your body learns to adapt to the changes and you’re able to relax and sleep better than ever before. This response can take a few months, however if you commit to a daily exercise routine, you’ll begin to enjoy deeper, more refreshing sleep.
#6 Improve Your Sex Life
While an improved libido and sex life may not be at the top of your work-out goals, it’s surely a nice perk. Studies show that men and women both receive benefit from regular physical activity, though the impact is different. For women, it makes them more sensitive to touch, and men experience improved function and better orgasms.
We’ve already talked about endorphins, and they play a role in libido as well. They also stimulate the release of sex hormones, which lower your heart rate and blood pressure, lower stress effects and improve your digestion. The ultimate experience makes you feel relaxed and ready for some love.
#7 Exercise Helps Improve Your Brain Power
We’ve talked about how exercising reduces your risk for dementia, and the truth is that doctors aren’t exactly sure how it works. It may be something as simple as the fact that your brain gets more oxygen when you exercise. However, they do know how exercise helps in other areas of your brain function.
Exercising improves focus, memory, and clarity. Studies show that it increases the number of cells in a few key areas of the brain including the memory centers. A study with older women who had mild cognitive impairment found that weight training helped improve cognitive function. Women were able to improve their recall.
Higher energy levels combined with the feel good state that endorphins produce also helps improve cognitive function, clarity, and focus. You’ll be able to think more quickly and to focus on tasks and activities for longer periods of time without getting distracted.
When starting a an exercise regime don’t forgt you need to be patient. You’re probably not going to reap the benefits of your efforts the first couple days. However, with time, dedication, and persistence you will change your life. Give yourself the commitment of exercising regularly, 4-6 times a week, for at least three months to experience the benefits. You’ll be glad that you did.