Exercise can and should be an integral part of your life. Unfortunately, many people are under the impression that you need a lot of time, money, resources, or natural skill to enjoy exercising. That isn’t the case. It’s important to engage in purely cardio (heart-healthy) activities as well as strength, balance, flexibility, and mobility training. In other words, there’s a combination of “exercises” out there that you’ll likely fall in love with, from swing dancing to a certain style of yoga you may not have tried yet. Don’t think that you “have to” become a runner or stick with that strength-training program that you dread daily. If you don’t enjoy your fitness, you’re not going to give your best or stick with it.
Beyond testing out and finding workouts that you enjoy, it’s just as important to know why you’re exercising. For many people, it begins with an effort to look better, and that’s a perfectly reasonable way to start. Reducing fat and/or building muscle can both be achieved with exercise and a healthy diet. However, that’s just one reason to work out—here are seven more:
- You keep your heart healthy. Your body is a machine, and that machine requires cardio activities to keep the blood pressure at a healthy level. The best and most natural way to achieve this is with cardio workouts. Anything that raises your pulse to its best fat-burning pace (which differs based on your age and gender) is cardio. This doesn’t mean you have to be panting for breath. In fact, that’s a sign that you’re over-extended. You should still be able to carry on a conversation with cardio, unless you’re practicing a specialized version like HIIT which challenges you to increase your heart rate as much as possible in a short period followed by lowering it with rest as quickly as possible.
- It improves your mood. Exercise is a proven method for helping to battle depression and the blues. While working out can’t cure diagnosed depression, which is a chemical imbalance, it can help with the symptoms and regular bouts of feeling down. Those endorphins are a natural high, and can keep you from reaching for dangerous coping mechanisms like binge eating or drinking.
- It gives you self-confidence. When you work out you feel better, no matter what the scale might say (to feel even better, ditch the scale altogether). We live in a culture where it’s normal and even encouraged to say self-deprecating things. When you have a low sense of self-worth, that will create a snowball effect of negativity. Want to feel better and boost your self-esteem? Start working out regularly.
- You can help tackle issues like addiction. There’s a reason exercise is so often prescribed as part of an addiction therapy regimen. Since it does give your body natural highs, ones that you may chase with drugs or alcohol, you’re teaching your body an organic way to soothe itself. Plus, if you really get into an exercise and decide to challenge yourself with something like a race, that requires your body to be kept healthy—even more reason to stay clean and sober.
- You’ll enjoy every other part of your life more. Workouts do much more than benefit you while exercising. As you increase strength, mobility, endurance and everything else, you’ll notice positive changes in your activities of daily living. This might include your intimate romantic life, the ability to run around with kids or grandkids easier, or simply taking the stairs without huffing for air. That’s why it’s recommended to get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. We need it simply to thrive.
- You can build a healthier network of friends and cheerleaders. It gets harder to make friends as we get older. You only have a small selection pool at work, and even then it’s common to want to keep your work and personal life separate. Group classes or activities like cycling clubs can introduce you to new people that share a healthy mindset. It’s one of the best ways to increase your social circle as an adult while ensuring your new crew is on the same wavelength as you.
- Fight a myriad of diseases. A weak heart, lack of muscle and increased excess fat can all exacerbate or even lead to a number of diseases. This can include obesity, diabetes, and a higher risk of fractures due to lost bone mineral density. The human body wasn’t designed to be sedentary, but that’s what our culture has led us to embrace. Fight this mentality and make working out a priority in your life. For quantifiable proof, get a physical before starting a regimen and in regular increments. You’ll be able to see the results unfold.
Don’t let working out become a luxury. It is supposed to be integrated into our daily life. Work out from home, take brisk walks during breaks, or wake up earlier to get in that yoga session. How can you make exercise part of your day?
Author Bio: Trevor is a freelance content writer and a recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.