10 Benefits of Exercise That Run Deep

Watching the Summer Olympics 2016 in Rio brought to mind the admiration I have for all these athlete’s commitment to their bodies. These men and women work so hard to compete in their respective sports. They’re focused, committed, they’re pushing their bodies hard to be in peak physical and mental condition. Even if we aren’t training to be in the Olympics, all of us can still exercise that mentality. So, how are we at committing to exercise?

It’s easy to allow ourselves to get off-track with fitness. More often than not, we find excuses to put it on the back burner (even though we have 168 hours in 1 week to fill). Our time is devoted to work, being social, spending time with family, and sleeping. While all are important, and all are good, we have many hours with too much couch time, and too much technology.

It’s important to recognize that part of being healthy is being sure that we move our bodies. By keeping our bodies active, the way they’re designed to be, we’re actually committing to ourselves on a much deeper level. We’re also committing to our families, friends, career and communities.

When we think about exercise, it’s important to remember we’re not just improving our outward appearance. On the outside, you’ll look fitter with strong shoulders, smaller waistline, better posture, tighter bottom, toned arms, slimmer legs… you will look great! However, the benefits of exercise start from the inside out. It’s these benefits I want to bring your attention to.

These are the seemingly silent benefits of exercise. In actuality, these are the benefits that enable us to have productive, high-energy days:

  1. WEIGHT CONTROL: We know when we balance our food with healthy protein and fats, fruits and vegetables, our bodies will be lean. Add exercise to eating healthy, and you’ll have the optimal weight control plan.
  2. STRENGTHENS BONES: There are nutrient-rich foods that are critical for strong bones, but actually weight-bearing exercises are one of the most effective ways to keep bones strong. The more tension you put on your bones, the more they will respond by continuously stimulating the cells necessary to build strong bones. This will help guard against osteoporosis as you age.
  3. IMPROVES BALANCE & COORDINATION: We develop balance and coordination when we’re young. As we age, these decline. Both are necessary for everyday life. You can test your own balance by closing your eyes, then add lifting one leg while your eyes are closed. See how it feels to you.
  4. IMPROVES IMMUNE FUNCTION: Our immune system gets stronger from exercise, and recovery time should you catch a cold, is quicker.
  5. COMBATS STRESS: Regular exercise lowers levels of stress hormones and relaxes muscles and tension in the body.
  6. LOWERS RISK OF HEART DISEASE: Working out lowers blood pressure and raises HDL’s, the good cholesterol, to keep our hearts stronger.
  7. SLEEP QUALITY: Exercising can dramatically increase your quality of sleep and ability to fall asleep faster.
  8. INCREASED ENERGY: Imagine having energy to keep you going throughout the whole day, without needing to take that second cup of coffee. That is what exercise will give you!
  9. REDUCES RISK FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES: Improves insulin sensitivity.
  10. MENTAL & EMOTIONAL HEALTH: Keeping physically active is an investment for your mind, body and soul. You feel better and more confident. Exercise helps you concentrate and be mentally sharp, it helps guard against mild to moderate depression.

At the end of the day, what all of us want is to feel better and look better. Know that you don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to reap the benefits of exercising, or find the dedication to do so. It’s important to find the right type of physical fitness thatyou enjoy doing: walking, dance, yoga, running, free weights, gym machines. If you don’t like working out alone, ask a friend to be your workout buddy and accountability partner.

Start small and build from there. Overdoing it at first can cause injury, preventing you from working out while losing your motivation. Don’t let that happen to you! Keep a journal of your workouts to see how far you have come. Be proud of yourself for making this commitment to your health. Celebrate your success with a nice massage, delicious meal… just be sure to acknowledge yourself. You’re worth it!

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