HEALTH & HAPPINESS: HACK YOUR WORKOUT FOR OPTIMAL WELLBEING
(This post was originally written for https://rebeccamariefit.wordpress.com/)
We all know that exercise is good for us and that we should do more of it. But simply knowing that we should do something doesn’t automatically equate with us jumping off the sofa to go for a run round the park. We tell ourselves a hundred reasons why we can’t exercise right now. We make excuse after excuse, and the excuses somehow seem more compelling than the reasons why we should work out. I know this because I have made excuses not to exercise my whole life. I wasted more time and energy devising excuses to get out of P.E classes at school than if I’d have just thrown myself into the lessons!
Why do we excuse ourselves from better health?
We tell ourselves we’re too tired or don’t have the energy to work out; we’re not motivated enough; we don’t have the money for a fancy gym membership or expensive kit; it’ll be boring; or we’ll embarrass ourselves. The list goes on and on. But deep down, we know that most of this isn’t valid – they’re all just excuses.
But if we know the benefits to our wellbeing, and find what motivates us to move more, we can conquer our cycle of constantly excusing ourselves from having better physical and mental wellbeing.
What motivates you? Do you want to fit into a specific pair of jeans or little black dress? Do you want to be able to run up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing? Do you want to be able to play with your children without getting tired? Do you want to prevent disease? Do you want to live a longer, healthier, happier life?
Boosting your Body through Exercise
We all know that exercise will make us physically fitter. Through exercise, we can control our weight, tone our body and improve our general wellbeing and cardiovascular health. We have the power through our choice to say ‘yes’ to exercise to strengthen our heart and lungs, lower our blood pressure and reduce our risk of heart attack and stroke. In getting our blood pumping around our body, we boost our circulatory system and reduce the accumulation of damaging cholesterol and fats in our arteries. We cut our blood sugar levels and slash our risk of developing diabetes, all whilst strengthening our bones, warding off osteoporosis, and even diminishing our cancer risk.
Work-Outs and Mental Wellbeing
So, whilst we all know that exercise is good for our physical health, we might not be quite so sure about what it can do for our mood and mental wellbeing. But many studies have shown that exercise will boost our mental and emotional health. Working out will give us more energy, reduce our feelings of stress and help us to cope better with pressure. It can improve our memory and help us to sleep well. We will feel calmer, boost our mood and reduce our anxiety and depression. Exercise releases natural ‘feel good’ chemicals in our body that lift our spirits. Working out floods your body with endorphins that help create happiness and joy.
Movement, Mindfulness and Making It Work for You
When we work out, exercise can be a conduit to mindfulness. As we focus on our movements, we break the cycle of negative thoughts that we may experience and feel more focused on what we are doing in the moment. Exercise can help us to achieve a state of ‘presence’, with increased awareness of what is happening around us right now. We won’t be worrying about the past or the future; we will be living in the now.
How to make it work for you?
For some, working out in the comfort of their own home may be the way forward, whereas for others, exercising outdoors can bring the benefit of nature into their keep-fit routine.
You may enjoy working out with other people and the increased social contact this brings. Being with others is good for our health, and it can increase our sense of accountability. Or you may prefer the solitude and mindfulness of exercising alone.
Try different exercises, work out in different places, go solo or keep fit with others. Work out to music for motivation. Shake it up, try new things, and see what works for you. But most of all, make it fun, make it a habit and notice the boost to your wellbeing, body and mind with each small exercise win.
And when we can tick off ‘exercise’ on our to-do list, and we see the improvements to our body and mood stack up over time, we will feel a sense of personal achievement that we have done what we set out to do and are achieving our goals.
When we realise that we are a motivated person, capable and in charge of creating our life the way we want it to be, we will amp up our self-belief and confidence. If we can do this, and create measurable change in our mind and body, what else can we do? The awareness of possibility is empowering. And sticking to exercising regularly (even just an 8-minute HIIT session, three times a week) will help you transform more than just your body. It has the power to transform your view of yourself as a person.
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