Finding your happy . . . With exercise. The natural high we all want.
I hear it all the time as a fitness professional. As clients leave their personal training appointments or small-group classes, I will ask, “how do you feel?” 99% of the time, I hear a resounding, “I feel SO much better than when I walked in!”
Why is that? Let’s explore.
We all know that exercise helps prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis. The great news is that your regular sweat sessions can also help improve your mood and reduce anxiety.
It is so important, especially now more than ever, to remember how GOOD we feel after we exercise. These are weird, stressful, anxiety-producing times we are all living through right now. Even as much as we all will say at times, “I’m fine, everything is fine”, it often really isn’t fine. We often really aren’t fine.
How And Why Do Our Bodies React They Way They Do To Exercise?
Being the data and science geek that I am, I love to dive into the science of our bodies and the how and why they react the way they do to exercise.
Regular physical activity helps to release our feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids), and other natural brain chemicals that enhance our sense of well-being.
We don’t even need to walk into the Cannabis store for this incredible effect! We need to lace up our shoes, head out the door, and get moving.
Who doesn’t love a good distraction from our problems? Think of your exercise time as your “me time”. Maybe it is when you solve that nagging issue in your head. Maybe it is where you simply “escape” and take your mind off your worries for a bit. We don’t need to solve world peace (although that would be awesome!) while exercising but catching up with a friend while power walking goes a LONG way toward a happy head and heart.
Let’s face it; the walls do seem to be closing in a bit. We now work from, school from home, eat at home, shop from home, AND exercise at home. You are most definitely NOT being selfish by stepping outside the house for 30-60 minutes to find your exercise happy place. You are merely taking great care of your physical and mental self.
What Is The Difference Between Physical Activity and Exercise?
Physical activity and exercise are not the same things, but both are beneficial to your health.
Physical activity works your muscles and requires energy and can include work or household or leisure activities. Think gardening, car washing, walking your dog.
Exercise is a planned, structured, and repetitive body movement done to improve or maintain physical fitness. Think running, bicycling, exercise classes, and lifting weights.
How Much Exercise Is Enough?
Doing 30 minutes or more of exercise a day for three to five days a week may significantly improve your mood, but smaller amounts of physical activity — as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time — may make a difference. It may take less time exercising to improve your mood when you do more-vigorous activities, such as running or bicycling.
Four Simple Tips To Start & Stick With An exercise Routine Or Regular Physical Activity
Getting started and sticking to a routine can be a challenge. Here are some realistic tips to help you get started and stay motivated.
1. Identify What You enjoy Doing. Are You A lone Wolf?
If you prefer to get your workout jam on solo, then consider walking, running, cycling, hiking, and the like. If, on the other hand you enjoy the company of a few people (of course from a safe 6 feet away!) or are looking for a more structured, instructor-led workout, look into some small group classes or personal training near you. This is where a little soul searching goes a long way towards success.
2. Set Reasonable Goals.
If exercise is just another “should” in your life that you don’t think you’re living up to, you’ll associate it with failure. Think baby steps here. If you are simply not engaging in any form of activity or exercise now, and you find a way to start out with 2x/week for 30 minutes. Thank is 100% improvement from where you were. 100%, that is pretty amazing!
3. Sort Out Your Barriers.
Figure out what’s stopping you from being physically active or exercising. If you stick to goals better with a partner, find a friend to work out with or who enjoys the same physical activities that you do. If you don’t have money to spend on exercise gear, do something that’s cost-free, such as regular walking. If you think about what’s stopping you from being physically active or exercising, you can probably find an alternative solution. My favorite tip, buy yourself a new workout outfit or shoes. Us girls know better than anyone the power a cute new outfit holds.
4. Prepare For Setbacks And Obstacles.
Give yourself credit for every step in the right direction, no matter how small. If you skip your planned workout one day, that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain an exercise routine and might as well quit. Just pick it up again the next day. Stick with it. This is where a trainer or other accountability partner comes in really handy.
Getting all the way back to where we started . . . Remember just how GREAT you feel when you have successfully worked up a sweat, raised your heart rate, and possibly created some sore muscles for tomorrow. THAT feeling will keep you coming back for more of the wonder drug we like to call Endorphins. Exercise is a big part of self-care.
Meet Ginny At Mercer Island Athletic Club!