Why do you exercise? It’s a simple question that can have hundreds of answers. I polled my coworkers and received a variety of responses: to feel healthy, to relieve stress, to lose weight, to train for a 5K, to feel more energy, to not gain weight, to get away from my husband.
I was inspired to write this blog by a conversation I overheard in the locker room. Two women were talking about their journeys with weight loss and how they were tracking their eating and exercise points using the Weight Watchers system. One woman was particularly upset because she had worked out for an hour and this only gave her 3 extra points to eat according to her Weight Watchers scale. She went on to say, “It’s like I worked out for nothing”.
That is the phrase that broke my heart. Regardless of how long or short or how hard or easy your work out is, no exercise session should go unappreciated. And, there is no such thing as a wasted workout. Remember, 10 minutes of walking on your lunch break is better than 10 minutes of sitting and playing on Facebook. When your purpose of exercise is solely to burn calories, it sometimes takes the enjoyment factor out of the equation. Also, we shouldn’t view working out as an ability to eat more. While a good sweat session does leave your body requiring more fuel, it shouldn’t be your sole purpose for heading to the gym.
Throughout the years I have worked out for both good and bad reasons. Today, I have a brand new mindset when it comes to exercise. One of my goals focuses on strength gains in the gym and in order to allow my body to adapt, I have to treat it correctly with proper fuel, rest and most importantly, recovery. These goals have been put on a hold for a while since I am pregnant so my focus at the moment is to simply maintain an active lifestyle. Regardless of what your goals are, remember there are hundreds of benefits that are experienced by the body when we simply get up and move!
28 Reasons to Exercise
- Helps develop a stronger core and better posture.
- Develops stronger bones and healthier muscles.
- A chance to enjoy the great outdoors!
- Reduces joint aches and stiffness.
- Helps prevent falls and fractures.
- Elevates mood and improves mental health.
- Lowers the risk of stroke.
- Reduces the incidence of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
- Improves blood sugar control in individuals with diabetes.
- Can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 40%.
- Exercise induced changes in body’s immune system can help prevent some forms of cancer, such as colon, endometrial and lung cancer.
- Reduces blood pressure.
- An opportunity to inspire others.
- Can reduce mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by 50%.
- Improves sleep habits.
- Reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) and can help raise good cholesterol (HDL) levels.
- Experience higher blood sugars after a meal? A quick walk can help bring those levels down.
- Regular exercise during pregnancy can help better condition the body to handle labor and delivery. Women who work out during pregnancy have a much easier time with bouncing back to their pre-baby body.
- Studies suggest that the best time to study, do a project or memorize a speech is after a good sweat session.
- Decreases insulin resistance.
- Can help reverse the damages experienced in the body from stress.
- Improves body image/self-esteem/self-worth, even in the absence of dramatic body changes.
- Coined as the “runner’s high”, exercise can produce a sense of euphoria in many individuals.
- Creates opportunities to bond in a healthy way with family and friends.
- Prevents/slows down the decline in cognitive functioning associated with aging.
- Relieves anxiety.
- Can help keep constipation at bay.
- May help reduce leg swelling from improved circulation.
Why 28 reasons? Well that’s because I am 28 weeks along and finally in my 3rd trimester! And remember just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean you should take a 9 month absence from the gym! I continue to go to Crossfit 4-5 days a week and enjoy leisure walks with my hubby and our dog, Bamboo. While every woman’s pregnancy is different, I am confident that my exercise habits have continuously contributed to my good moods, energy levels and proper weight gain. Remember to always discuss your exercise routine with your OB-GYN.