I don’t go to the gym to get fit. Well – I do, but that’s not the only reason.
Exercise does far, far more than that. And it doesn’t have to be the gym – any sort of exercise will do. You do you.
Exercise helps your mind as well as your body. If you’re physically active, you will benefit from all of these amazing things –
- Your mood will improve. It won’t solve all your problems, but it will help you to cope better with them. Stress, anxiety and depression will be reduced. The three major scourges of modern life, and exercise helps with all three. It’s absolutely no surprise that a life spent indoors and online coincides with an increasing number of people suffering from these problems – get out and get moving again, and they will start to go away. Isn’t that just amazing? There have been studies that have shown that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as medication. I’m going to say that again. As effectively as medication. And the only side effect is that you’ll also get physically fitter. A study at Harvard showed that running for 15 minutes or walking for an hour, every day, could reduce major depression by 26%. That’s mighty.
- Your self-esteem will improve – and it will start to improve before you start to see any physical changes. Whether it’s just the sense of following through with something that you know will benefit you, or seeing steady improvement, or beating a personal best, you will feel good about yourself.
- Your body image will improve – as you learn what your body is capable of, and as you learn to push yourself, you will learn to appreciate your body and forgive its imperfections.
- You will feel more energetic – it sounds a bit counter-intuitive, but working out will make you feel more energetic. It really will.
- Your physical confidence will increase – your balance will improve, your strength will return, you’ll be able to trust your body to do what you ask of it.
- Your memory will improve – getting the blood pumping really helps. You’ll feel less sluggish and your brain will just work better and quicker.
- Your sleep will improve – if you’re a bit less stressed, a bit less anxious, a bit less depressed and a bit more physically tired, chances are you’ll sleep better.
I genuinely believe that a prescription for exercise should be handed out as readily by doctors as a prescription for anti-depressants.
Don’t have the time? Fiddlesticks. You can always find the time for the things you want to do. So decide that you want to exercise, and you’ll find the time to do it.
Don’t have the gear? You don’t need a Green Goddess leotard and matching headband to hit the gym. Just comfy leggings and a T-shirt that doesn’t mind soaking up a bit of sweat. No-one looks glamorous at the gym. You don’t need Brasher boots and walking poles to go for a hike – just sensible shoes and a waterproof.
Don’t set yourself up to fail. You’re not going to run a marathon next summer if you haven’t even run for a bus for 20 years. You’re never going to spend an hour in the gym every morning, so don’t decide that you will and then feel bad because you didn’t. Be realistic. And then just do it.
When it’s chucking it down outside, the wind is blowing half a hooligan, it’s getting dark and the cat’s snuggled up on the sofa waiting for me, what gets me out of the house and into the gym isn’t the thought that I’ll get fitter – it’s the thought that I’ll feel better afterwards.
And the same is true for the other gym goers. At the end of a session, when we’re all knackered and we have to go back out into the rain and the wind and the dark, and we start to question our sanity – we’re unanimous. We feel better for it.
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