Nine Reasons Why I Exercise (That Have Nothing To Do With Health)

sports-shoes-115149_1280Years ago I certainly did not do any regular exercise. Admittedly I was a junior doctor working stupidly long hours at the time, but the truth is I didn’t like exercise, or perhaps I didn’t understand the immediate benefits it could have on my life. Over time I resolved to make it a part of my life, and now exercise at least four times a week.
Our motivation to incorporate healthy habits into our daily routine often depends on the short-term benefits rather than long-term, so I know that the promise of longer life, lower risk of cancer, and lower risk of dementia and osteoporosis may not work for many (especially younger) people. So I’ve included a number of reasons why I exercise to feel good now. If you’re struggling to make this a regular thing, try picking one or two reasons from the list below to motivate you to get your 1.5 hours in a week.

 

Sanity.

I exercise for my sanity. Any less than 3 times a week and I feel unmotivated, depressed and increasingly dark. After a run or a walk, it’s like my brain receives a boost of happy neurochemicals (well, this is actually what happens). Exercise is my antidepressant. (Now, if you’re actually depressed, this may not be enough to lift you out of major depression, but it certainly will help, along with other things).

 

Vanity.

This is not actually a high priority on my list but I put it together with Sanity because it rhymes. Exercise keeps you looking good – your muscles are toned, you look great (because you’re sane!), it keeps excess kilos at bay.

 

Sleep.

I sleep much better when I get regular exercise – my head hits the pillow and I’m away. This has marvellous benefits beyond just feeling refreshed – it balances out your hormones, particularly reducing stress hormones, and keeping weight off. Sleep more, weigh less? Yes please!

Exercise helps me sleep like a baby... Hah! That's a lie. We all know babies don't sleep?!
Exercise helps me sleep like a baby… Hah! That’s a lie. We all know babies don’t sleep?!

Energy.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but exercise increases energy levels rather than depletes them. Not exercising for a few days makes me feel incredibly sluggish, as though my system has virtually ground to a halt. People ask how I can have the energy to exercise and work and parent but I would answer, I have the energy because I exercise.

 

Me-time.

The holy grail of parenting. Going for a run is one of the best forms of me-time I could think of. I choose a podcast and savour the 30 minutes of not having to deal with tricky revisions on my latest chapter or misbehaving toddlers. I come home feeling pretty good too. I love having massages but I rarely get them because a regular run is a better form of me-time.

 

Outdoors time.

If you’re like me, you probably spend a great deal of time indoors (my department, in particular, has decided to house PhD students in an airless box that has the atmosphere of a dungeon). Getting outdoors is literally a breath of fresh air! I like to run around nature, like a park, and the green of the trees rejuvenates my weary eyes and head.

Use exercise to get back into nature. Talk about multitasking!!
Use exercise to get back into nature. Talk about multitasking!!

Eating.

You can eat a little bit more (but not too much! A 30 minute run will only burn about 200 calories – that’s just a small yoghurt), unless you’re trying to lose weight.

 

Epiphanies.

You might need to be a regular exerciser for a while before this happens to you (yes I admit it’s painful when you get started and you’re very unfit but your fitness catches up quickly, so don’t give up!) I have the most amazing epiphanies when I run. Solutions to major life dilemmas, a new idea for the Discussion chapter in my thesis, an idea for a new project or blog. It’s like my brain starts sorting out the mess in my head and arranges it in startlingly vivid, orderly and logical patterns. I go home with a fresh brain full of brilliant ideas and insights.

 

Example.

I know that I’m modelling healthy behaviour for my children, and that in the future they will know that mummy used to run three times a week so perhaps I should get off the couch and do something too. That parental example will be ingrained in their brains and I will have given them an advantage, not a disadvantage.

What about you? What are the reasons why you exercise? Share to motivate others on their fitness journey! Happy moving to you all :)
Share

2 comments on “Nine Reasons Why I Exercise (That Have Nothing To Do With Health)

  1. Sara
    October 7, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    What a great article! I totally agree with you me time is definitely in my priority too. I love exercising early morning. I love how refreshed I feel and things just seem less as complicated. I make it as a non negotiable part of my morning routine like having breakfast and so every one respects it. I too hope that my girls will be motivated by it and hopefully do the same as they grow.

  2. admin
    October 14, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Great habit there Sara! I love how you have made it non-negotiable as well. I am sure your girls will benefit from this for years to come :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Login with Facebook: