Yes, we all know that exercise is good for us; after all, there are a million articles and books on the subject. Sometimes the obvious reasons aren’t enough with the busy life that baby boomers have nowadays. And for those of you who are younger, this fits for you too as you will undoubtedly become busier with each passing decade. Once I finally got myself into a regular routine of exercising, I realized that there are some ancillary benefits of exercise that could be the additional motivation you need to begin or continue your exercise program.
Physical activity provides a mental boost and gives a sense of empowerment
No matter what kind of day I had or no matter the resultant mood from that day, I always get a mental boost from exercise. In one way of looking at it, the mental boost equals or exceeds the physical benefits of exercise. The physical benefits of exercise are cumulative but the mental boost is immediate. There is nothing like receiving a little positive immediate gratification at the end of a tough day.
After a good workout, I feel energized and empowered and that I can handle most anything.
I begin my workouts with a 30-minute power walk. My iPod Shuffle has a playlist of positive, peppy, feel good music. The music will begin to lift my spirits away from the travails of the day and my mind would wander and then would become filled with positive thoughts. After 30 minutes of uplifting music inspiring positive thoughts, I enjoy the feeling of “Yes, I can.”
There is also that wonderful feeling of accomplishment when you leave the gym and head for the car, knowing that you completed your workout and you have done something positive for yourself; and the glow of that ‘special smile’ you have reserved for those who are just going in as you are on the way out the door.
Exercise takes your mind off of work and other stresses
With all work and no play, it is too easy to stay mired in the work mode. Whether you are working 80 hour weeks at the office or 100+ hour weeks at home taking care of children and families, let’s face it, it is hard to take our minds off our to-do lists, responsibilities and our smart phones. I mention the smart phones because many people take them in the gym. While they could be listening to the iPod function, I choose to leave mine in the locker where I get away from it, so that the exercise time feels more like break time.
It is not good for us to stay at a continual stress level and we must have an escape valve to rid ourselves of excess tension. For the duration of time spent on exercising, we can concentrate on the activity at hand and not anything else. It is a mental mini-vacation. I find that when I play tennis, I not only enjoy being outside in the fresh air, but because I focus on just hitting the ball, I am not mentally multi-tasking. We need the physical release of exercise to counter the mental stress of life. After all, the purpose of recreation is to “recreate” our selves.
Fitness sets a good example for others
You never know who is watching you and may be encouraged by your dedication to fitness. I had an acquaintance that was so over the top enthusiastic about his workouts, that his positive reports actually motivated me to begin a regular exercise program. Now I share his enthusiasm because I am getting myself in motion on a regular basis.
An added bonus is the good example you are setting for your children, your nieces and nephews and maybe even your neighbor’s kids. I give credit to the fact that I was active when I was young, exercised 3 times a week beginning when I was 18, to help me regain an earlier and positive habit of regular foundation of exercise. Had I not had the experience of being active at a young age, then I question if I would have even started exercising at my stage of life now. You can’t underestimate the good example you can set for the youth around you when they see you exercise, you could be helping them begin one of the best habits they can develop in their lives.
And yes, finally over time, the advertised benefits of exercise materialized: I am healthier, rarely do I get sick, I feel better, my clothes fit better and my over all sense of well being has improved greatly.
Exercise can also be therapy for you; plus it’s cheaper and burns more calories!