Thursday, December 12, 2013

The 5 Biggest Reasons I Exercise (Hint: It Has Nothing to Do With How I Look)

yoga at sunset
Exercise benefits move way beyond being fit.
Image: Shutterstock
When I first started getting back into exercising, I’ll admit it was because I was tired of being out of shape. I was jealous of my friends that actually had upper body strength. I wanted flat abs. I felt self-conscious in tight clothing. In short, I was unhappy with my physical appearance.

It’s the same reason many people start working out. But somewhere along the way, I discovered that, though it’s nice to be in shape, it was no longer my priority or main reason for exercising. Working out comes with so many other, often more important, benefits. If it were just about getting fit, I probably wouldn’t have such a strong drive to continue exercising; but it’s not. It’s about these five things instead:
  1. Exercising lifts my mood. I love my job, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have days when I leave in a bad mood. Sometimes, things don’t go as planned and I end up stressed out. And though I’m tired and tempted to just go home and sleep it off, I work out instead—and end up feeling happier and more relaxed by the time I’m done. The hardest part is getting there—once the blood is flowing, the good juju is happening.
  2. Exercising helps me feel more creative. Do you ever feel completely brain dead at the end of a long day or week? I know I do. Brain tiredness is just a fact of life, but exercising helps me regain some of that creativity. It awakens and freshens my brain, and for that, I love it.
  3. Exercising gives me more energy. I know, I know: exercise should make me more tired, right? It does make me tired, initially—but the next day, I always feel like I have more energy, a little bit more of a spring in my step, and can face the world with a smile.
  4. Exercising gives me confidence. It makes me feel powerful. Sure, I can’t do inversions or crazy yoga moves yet, but the fact that I’m trying and getting closer each class makes me feel so strong. I believe in myself mentally and physically, and instead of criticizing my faults, I find myself congratulating myself on my strengths. It’s a wonderful feeling.
  5. Exercising strengthens my immune system. When you exercise, you’re not just building up your physical muscles—you’re promoting overall health, too. Studies have shown that regular exercise can help us fight off sickness. It’s nice being the only one in the office not to catch that nasty bug.
These are the top reasons why I exercise. What about you? What, besides getting more fit, keeps you going back again and again? I’d love to hear your comments below!