Once upon a time I thought exercise is something for crazy people. So I exercised only 2 months a year when I’d be starving myself to death + overexercise to be able to show up on the beach.
Honestly, even though I was a professional dieter, exercise just seemed like too much trouble for me – it was easier just to be starving.
If someone told me a couple of years ago that I’d be defending exercise & writing about its benefits, I’d have a nice laugh. The one that involves tears. 🙂
The problem I had with exercise was, aside from requirement to move my lazy ass, seeing it promoted as a weight loss strategy by super thin women who seemed like they’re spending 20 hours a day doing cardio, drowning in their own sweat, clearly suffering & then posting 150 pics on Instagram. Of course, all of that while wearing “no pain no gain” kinda leggings – and promoting that message.
No way I was gonna be a part of that. I prefered just sitting at home, dreaming about my next meal.
Even when I would decide to move my booty, it was suffering; doing exercises I didn’t really enjoy, just to be a couple of calories down so that I could eat lunch. You know, chicken & broccoli kinda lunch.
No wonder I thought exercise was stupid.
However, once I emerged myself into a journey of self-love & wellness, I couldn’t avoid exercise anymore. Evidence about its wonderful benefits were everywhere I looked; in the books I was studying from, all the blogs I was reading, people I found inspiring.. So it was time for me to, once again, start moving my body.
The concept of wearing “no pain no gain” leggings & killing myself in the gym was still a no-go for me. The solution I found was simple; I thought of the ways I was already moving my body & enjoyed them, and I expanded on those.
For me, it was walking my dog. We’re lucky to live right next to the beautiful forest, so what I did was, instead of walking only through the park – I included a bit of the forest path. My walks got longer & longer. Then I had an idea to jog just for a little bit.
First time, I was done after 3 minutes. The next day, 5 minutes. Sooner than I thought, I became a kind of person that goes every morning for an hour of jogging. Completely insane – compared to the person whose way of moving her body was walking to the fridge.
What I want to inspire you to do is – just find a movement that’s joyful for you. Monday – Wednesday – Friday at the gym is not the only way to move your body. Maybe you love swimming; then go swim. Maybe you love dancing; go dance. Maybe you love yoga; do it. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do it consistently + enjoy it. Just start small; you’ll be surprised how much easier it gets with time.
Even more important than enjoying your movement is – let go of exercise as a way to “burn fat”. What helped me stop seeing exercise only as a way to deserve my next meal, was considering all of the other benefits exercise offers us. When you learn about these, you can consciously choose to see exercise as a way to prolong your life, to be healthy, strong & to be able to live + enjoy your life much easier.
When you focus on all the wonderful benefits of exercise & when you pick movements you truly enjoy, being consistent is much easier. It becomes a part of who you are.
Especially when you start feeling the benefits; noticing how amazing you feel afterwards, how much better the whole life gets – going for the next class definitely won’t be a drag!
Some of the best benefits exercise offers are;
1. It makes us happy
Exercise has been proven to boost our happiness. Personally, I don’t even need studies to tell me that; I know how I feel before I hit the gym & I know how happily I go home after exercising. Best part? That feeling streches through the whole day.
However, studies are a nice way of confirming that I’m not the only one – when we move, we tend to become happier, ethusiastic & excited (1). People who were active had more feelings of excitement & ethusiasm, especially on days when they were more active than usual. Amazing!
Exercise is also shown to help against depression, anxiety & stress. It has positive effects on a couple of biological & psychological mechanisms. (2)
No wonder so many super successful people choose to start their day with movement. How would your life change if you were starting your days ethusiastic + excited?
2. Exercise energizes us
When tired, logical thing many of us choose to do is lie down & grab a TV controler. However, science doesn’t support us, quite opposite! Apparently, the best thing to do when feeling tired is move! No need to some crazy HIIT, low intensitiy movement is enough to boost our energy. Simply taking a walk or doing some yoga flow is enough to help us feel more energized.
3. Reduces risk of some diseases
It’s also effective for decreasing blood pressure & blood fat levels. (7) Exercise makes our immune system stronger, which is crucial for defending our bodies from various diseases, including cancer. (8)
4. Better sleep
Exercise benefits our sleep time and sleep efficiency, sleep onset latency, and sleep quality. (11) Regular exercise helps fight insomnia, as well as quality of life for people suffering from insomnia. (12) It also goes the other way around – better sleep helps us perform better (13)
Just as a reminder, another helpful tool for sleeping better are adaptogens, I’ve been using ashwagandha for months now & I can’t imagine my life without it. I love it – just try it & see what happens! If you don’t know exactly how to use it, I have a delicious solution for that too!
5. Keeps our muscles & bones healthy + strong
As people age, they tend to lose muscles mass, which is why it’s essential to keep our muscles as strong as possible; to be able to enjoy life always!
As for the bones, we stop developing bone density once we reach ca. 30 years of age. Meaning, getting enough minerals when we’re young is CRUCIAL for bone health all through the life. If we don’t take resposibility for building strong bones, we have higher risk of having fragile bones. This can decrease our capability to enjoy life.
Therefore, taking loving care of our muscles & bones is important forever – we want to live a long, healthy life & be able to move, always.
And not only for the bones – muscles also benefit from resistance & strenght training. Weight lifting is particularly useful for growing muscle.
Pair your exercise with nutrition for the best results!
6. Boosts our brain power
Most interesting study about brain power boosting effects of exercise I have seen is definitely the one that concluded that exercise increased the size of the hippocampus. (16) Talk about amazing! Hippocampus is responsible for our memory & learning.
People who exercise regularly show lower rates of cognitive impairment, depression and dementia, especially combined with Mediterranean diet, which is known for its positive effect on brain health (17) Luckily for you, Mediterranean cuisine is my favorite ever, so you can easily find recipes that’ll make your brain healthy in the recipe section.
These are the biggest benefits of exercise that motivate me constantly, so I hope they’ll motivate you as well. Remember that the point of exercising is feeling great, enjoying the movement & doing something lovely for your body + mind.
What the point isn’t is burning anything nor is it to deserve anything. You do not need to deserve your meal. You also don’t need to deserve love – you deserve it because you exist.
So, find the way of moving your body that you enjoy the most & commit to it a couple of times a week. Benefits are truly worth it. Exercise is celebration of what your body can do.
What’s your favorite way of exercising? Do you exercise regularly? How does exercise make you feel?
Lots of love,