You may think of exercise as something you do to attempt to change or improve your body. I used to think of physical activity as something I had to do if I wanted to be thin. You may have found that this focus on the outer physical benefits of exercise can be the primary discouraging factor for you when you try to start or maintain routine of physical fitness into your life.
- It Is A Very Potent Anti-depressant: Physical activity is quite literally the most effective long term anti-depressant agents. Now, I am not claiming that working out is going to totally fix your life and make the things that are not in alignment with your happiness go away, however the act of physical activity will boost your feel good hormones in the moment, which may actually empower you to make the changes you need to make to really get to the root of your anxiety/depression. Endorphins are really magical things, and you deserve to have them in your life!
- It Can Improve Your Ability To Sleep and Recover: Exercise burns through stress hormones, and this is going to improve your ability to sleep. The stress hormones that your ancestors that were wandering the desserts produced when they saw a lion running towards them are the exact same stress hormones that your body producers today when you are being yelled at by your boss. The truth is that stress hormones were designed to be produced in cases where you needed to fight or flee - when you were going to be physically active. The body is actually performing a calculated risk by producing stress hormones, because in the moment they can be life saving, but over time they are actually quite harmful for the body. This is why in our hyper stressful world, where we are constantly being bombarded with deadlines, street noise, music, cell phone alarms, e-mails, demands of family and so on, we are producing these exact same stress hormones designed to help us reach a state of peak physical performance, but we are not actually doing anything physical as a result of our stress anymore. When you exercise you give your body the ability to use up some of these stress hormones, which will decrease their negative impact on your physical and mental well being.
- Can Improve Your Connection To Your Body: Do you feel connected with your body? Or are you one of those people who does not realize you are hungry until you are hangry, or that you have a headache until it is a full blown migraine? Becoming physically active will help you to re-establish the mind/body connection that we tend to lose as we grow older. Babies and small children are intimately connected with their bodies. They eat when they are hungry, sleep when tired, play when they have energy and rarely do they override a bodily function. This way of being generally gets lost as we age and learn to eat at ‘lunch’ time, take our bathroom breaks when we are told, sleep when we are put to bed and so on. When you move your body consciously you are setting yourself up to pay attention to your body and this will transfer over into the rest of your life when you do so repeatedly. This body connection will become invaluable in your life as you develop it.
- It Can Develop A Deeper Love and Respect For Your Body And All It Does For You: If you tend to be one of those people who is constantly finding fault with your body, then becoming physically active may be one of the best things you can do to help cultivate some love and respect for all that your body does for you. When you have conquered a nice walk, lifted 2 more pounds than you were able to lift before or can move your body into a new yoga posture you cannot help but stop and appreciate the amazing vehicle that you live in. Even just becoming aware of your quickened heart rate, and then acknowledging that your heart beats for you every minute of every day without you ever having to tell it to do so can be cause for some body reverence. Your body is an amazing machine, and even if it does not look the way you would like it to, it is still working hard for you. Physical activity can help remind you just how amazing your body really is.
- It is A Non-negotiable For Physical Health, Regardless Of What You Look Like: Lastly, physical activity is a non-negotiable for health and wellness. Your body was designed to move. This does not mean that you need to take up marathon running. All this means is that in order to cultivate and maintain health over your lifetime, you do have to find some sort of movement that you enjoy enough to make a habit out of. 20-30 minutes most days of the week is all it takes to start seeing health improvements. Make your movement time your special time. Allow it to become a symbol of you carving out time that is just for taking care of you. You may be amazed how this transforms not only your perspective of exercise, but also your ability to enjoy it and your ability to enjoy your body.
I used to kill myself with my workouts. Now, I practice yoga, go for walks and do pilates. These are the types of movement that I enjoy. I stopped pushing myself and started loving myself through movement. And, low and behold as soon as I stopped trying to force my body to look a certain way through activities I did not enjoy, all of a sudden my body changed! Working out is a self love tool if you set it up to be. What is your favorite way to move?