Watching the amazing athletes compete in the Olympics has me thinking about physical fitness. What in the world could possibly motivate someone enough to push themselves to that extreme level of fitness and competition? The Olympics level of fitness is unattainable for most of us, but physical fitness is a lifestyle habit that is essential to our health. Not everyone loves exercise, which means that many, many, many people just don’t do it.
I have been consistently exercising since I was in my teens. I had no idea what I was doing, and honestly only did it because I hated my body. I started exercising because I wanted to lose weight. I hated my body and I hated working out.
I can’t tell you exactly how long I continued in this state, because I didn’t really have the awareness to recognize that my “health” journey was fueled by self-hatred. There are so many better reasons to exercise, obviously!
This is the sad reality for many of us. And this is what I want to help change.
I think that if we have a true understanding of all of the ways we will feel better when we engage in physical activity, and we focus on exercising for all of those reasons, our pursuit becomes one of love. We can engage in physical activity because it is fun, it feels good, and it improves our overall health and well-being.
Because our lives are relatively sedentary, we really have to go out of our way to engage in physical activity that is for the sole purpose of health and fitness. In fact, it would be safe to say that being physically active for any reason other than gathering food or engaging in social activity, is against our human nature. When we get to an age where we are no longer engaged in physical play (or engaged in sports), it is left up to us to decide whether or not we are going to go out of our way to exercise.
While I would argue that exercise is not an effective tool for weight loss (diet is the key for so many reasons- beyond calories), exercise is absolutely necessary for health and longevity. Someone going from no exercise to just one hour of physical activity each week (that is only 8 minutes a day), can lower their mortality rate by 30-40%. Increase that time to 150 minutes a week, and your mortality rate decreases by 50%. It doesn’t take an absurd amount of time to reap the benefits of physical activity.
Physical activity has so many health benefits.
Reduces rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, infections, risk of falls, etc.
Improves energy, mood, flexibility and strength, sleep quality, memory and concentration, longevity, etc.
Increases muscle mass (improves balance, shapes the body, improves metabolism and blood sugar control)
The important thing is that you do some kind of physical activity that you find enjoyable. Because if you hate doing it, you are not going to keep it up for very long. I highly recommend that you try different things and see what makes you happy. You might hate to run on a treadmill, but enjoy hiking with your friend. You might hate a workout video, but love going to a group class at the gym. And remember that you can start small, with shorter and less intense activities, and you will still gain tremendous health benefits.
A healthy life is a gift that only you have the power to give to yourself. There is no medication, no supplement, and no surgery that can give it to you. Making healthy lifestyle choices is an act of self-love. I eat healthy because I love myself. I give myself plenty of time to sleep because I love myself. I work on personal development and stress management because I love myself. And I workout because I love myself.
I hope that you learn how to do the same for yourself. Sometimes it takes self-sacrifice, temporary discomfort, and a whole lot of will-power to become the best version of yourself.
But I can actually promise you that physical fitness and self-love are two things you need to live a healthier, longer life.
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