Do you want to better your mood? Reduce stress? Improve sleep? Reduce depression and anxiety? Then exercise! We’ve all heard the hype about the health benefits of exercising regularly, but let’s take a closer look at what those benefits actually look like.
No, you don’t need to channel your inner yogi for this one. Many people report feeling good after a workout. Feeling good can mean different things for different people. Feeling good can give you satisfaction, make you feel energized, give you a positive outlook, enhance your alertness, improve your focus and concentration, and even promote relaxation.
Stress can manifest itself in many ways either physically or emotionally. Either way, exercise has been shown to reduce stress and provide immediate and long term results. Ask yourself “What time of day would be the most beneficial time for me to exercise and reduce stress?” For some people, exercising in the morning might prepare them for the day ahead. Some people find exercising during their lunch break helps disperse the stress throughout the day. Others find that exercising at the end of the day decreases their stressors and leaves them feeling refreshed by the end of the day. Exercise should reduce your stress, not increase it due to scheduling. Case in point, find what works best for you!
Exercise has the ability to help people fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and feel more refreshed in the morning. By getting better sleep you’ll experience a higher resistance to stress-related illnesses, have higher immune function, and feel energized and refreshed in the morning.
Reduce Depression and Anxiety
Worry, self-doubt, and fear, these are the feelings of anxiety. Whether you experience trait anxiety (a personality trait) or state anxiety (a temporary feeling), exercise has been shown to decrease these feelings. Hopelessness can accompany the feelings of anxiety and lead to depression. “Research has shown that regular exercise has the greatest impact on depression and is comparable in effectiveness to psychotherapy and medication for mild to moderate depression” according to the National Academy of Sport Medicine.
So now that you know how your lifestyle can help you, let’s examine how your lifestyle can hurt you. Do you have a busy schedule? Do you want shredded abs by next week? Do you sometimes have low self-confidence? Is working out inconvenient? All of these are potential barriers when starting out on your fitness journey and can be avoided.
Time is the most widely used excuse for not exercising. If you have time to watch TV, scroll through Facebook, or browse Pinterest, then you have time to exercise! Take a step back and ask yourself “How much time am I really spending on these activities?” and “Where can I cut back to make more room for working out?”
You can’t make up for days, weeks, or years of not exercising by jumping into an intense exercise program to “undo” the damage. You will end up starting way too fast, and create way too many unrealistic goals, leading to lower motivation and a decreased self-esteem. Hiring a personal trainer can help you create SMART goals, and set up a plan to reach your goals in a realistic and healthy way.
Social Physique Anxiety
You’d be surprised to learn how many gym goers overemphasize the difference between their body type and the body type of the people working out around them. So, if you’re feeling more out of shape than the person next to you, chances are they’re thinking the same thing. Try finding a gym partner so you have someone there to support you. If you don’t have a gym partner, try to meet people with similar body types who you’re able to relate to.
Sometimes a gym may be out of reach for people due to their physical location or their financial situation. Examine all options available and then decide what your priorities are. Would you rather exercise at home? Invest in an at home workout routine designed by a personal trainer. Would you rather spend money at the bar or put that towards your health by hiring a personal trainer? For this barrier, ask yourself “Are these barriers real, or am I making excuses?”