When I receive calls, emails, and intake applications from prospective clients who are interested in joining our community, I hear the same statements time and time again about their exercise practice.
“I’ve tried everything – intense cardio, calorie restriction, etc. – and I still don’t have the body I want”
“What happened to my 30-year-old body? I want to fit into my jeans again!”
“My body is changing so much. If I just lost 10 pounds, I’d feel happier.”
“I don’t feel good physically about myself, yo-yo dieting and exercising drains my confidence.”
I’ve been there; I’ve had those mindsets. I know the torture of waking up every morning believing that your body is waging a war against you.
I also know what it feels like to exercise as a punishment instead of exercising because we love and want to honor our bodies.
Our society places a skewed emphasis on how we look, particularly our bodies’ appearance and shape. Marketing and “fitness” companies make billions telling us to use products or services to LOOK a certain way. In turn, we as Americans spend billions to look a certain way, mainly for others’ perception of us. The irony is that the standard of how we should “look” from exercise is ever-changing. These same companies thrive on lowering our confidence and keeping us on the rollercoaster of self-doubt, fad diets, and unproven exercise programs.
I have worked with so many clients who exercise only as a means to achieving a “perfect” body, unrealistically striving for something we all know deep down doesn’t exist. Yet, I have seen how small shifts in how we perceive exercise and its role in our lives can change this “dinosaur” way of thinking.
Exercise often has the connotation of happening during a set period of time, in a gym, or in a sweaty, intense, heart-pounding class. It also brings to mind the idea of “punishment” or “correcting a problem,” like working off your calories from the night before.
I challenge us to view exercise as movement. Movement is a way to honor our bodies for all they do for us. Whether we enjoy morning walks, playing with children, neighbors, or grandchildren at the park, or a barre class with friends, we can shift to a positive mindset. This fresh mindset can help us understand that we exercise because we love our bodies and we want to increase our long-term health, our brain capacity, mobility, and strength.
Making movement a continued experience throughout the day will just about always do us more good than an extra hour of vigorous, exhausting exercise. Our perception that exercise is only of value when it is an hour-long can lead to it also feeling more like a chore that leaves you working against yourself and associating exercise with a negative thought.
Instead of using how our bodies look as the barometer of confidence, happiness, and wellness success, what if we dug deeper and viewed all of the benefits that movement can give us as our measurement of fulfillment?
Below are four benefits of moving our bodies that have nothing to do with appearance!
1. Brain Health
Among the dozens of benefits, movement improves brain performance and reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. Lack of quality movement is also directly associated with decreased motivation, a weaker core, and poor posture and confidence. We have less energy from being stuck in a sedentary routine, we gravitate toward negative thoughts reinforcing our bodily insecurities and resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms – like high-sugar treats, alcohol, TV, or social media scrolling binges.
Building – even maintaining – our muscle is a top goal for post-30 men and women. Muscles begin to deplete around the age of 30. Also, Muscle helps regulate our hormones.
More benefits of strength training include:
- Increased muscle growth, strength, power, recovery, and endurance.
- Increased integrity of bone and connective tissues.
- Increased metabolism.
- Reduced rate of injury.
- Reduced lower back pain.
Thankfully, I hear this more now than before, longevity is a goal for prospects and clients. Our behavior today has a huge implication for our last decade of life. Regular exercise is most certainly a TOP 5 indicator for longevity.
A 2012 Swedish study found that individuals over 75 who were also physically active and joined in social activities lived an average of 5.4 years longer than their less-active peers. Even at 85, a physically active and social lifestyle can bring an extra 4 years of longevity. The most important factor in the longevity of the study participants was physical activity, which alone was linked to an extra two or more years of life.
The study followed what occurs at the cellular level in the body during exercise. Exercise triggers “mitochondrial biogenesis,” that commonly declines during aging, and is a term that refers to the synthesis of new mitochondria in muscle tissue.
Movement also reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke, the two leading causes of death in the United States. It can reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol, and enhance energy. Quality, consistent movement lowers the risk of colon cancer, lung cancer, and breast cancer while strengthening our bones and muscles.
4. Stress Relief
Movement releases our feel-good hormones – dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins –d and alleviates everyday stress. Moreover, it helps our emotions move through our bodies and provides us with an outlet to express ourselves through motion.
Movement is everything because our bodies are everything. They are the vessel through which we can live our incredible lives, celebrate family and friends, give back to the world, and so much more. We are more than the number on the scale and our pant size.
I know more than anyone that fitness and movement don’t have to be a sweaty chore spent at a crowded gym. Movement can happen right wherever my feet are. A five-minute break from work to walk outdoors or even down the hallway in my office goes a LONG way to improving my fitness, my posture, and my stress management.
If you would like to have a better relationship with your body like I now do, join my email list for exclusive wellness tips and strategies I only share with my community! If you are not already on my email list, join now. You’ll get tons of tangible habit changes, opportunities to join innovative programming, and the ability to meet others who want to uplevel their wellness – just like you do.