Okay already, you’ve waited this long, so yes, exercise is not only good for your work performance and marriage: it is also great for you! No surprise, right? Well, it’s not uncommon to downplay our own needs, is it? Keeping up with work demands and our family schedule can give us plenty of reasons why we just don’t have the time to exercise. But the truth is if we don’t meet our own basic needs we can’t be our best for others.
Fortunately, I have never had a problem getting motivated to exercise. It is just how I am wired. Exercise makes me more confident, calmer, more clear-thinking and definitely more focused. But really, the biggest reason I am so committed to exercise is because I want to be able to enjoy my time with my family. If they go skiing, I want to be the first one down the slopes. If they want to play a little basketball, I don’t want to have to sit on the sidelines. Life is too short anyway, so why waste it with having a physical body that is limited because of our choice not to take care of it? So here are a few reasons why a little “you time” is a good idea.
If you experience mild to moderate depression or anxiety, some argue that exercise can actually be as effective as prescription medication– without any annoying side effects! For one thing, it’s a good distraction from negative thoughts, but it also affects brain chemistry through the release of dopamine and endorphins. A consistent exercise schedule can help prevent relapse symptoms, as well.
Fewer Stress Symptoms
We’ve discussed how reducing your stress improves your relationships and work performance, but it can actually reduce some annoying physical issues you might be having, like back problems, headaches, and muscle tension. Exercise can help relieve these symptoms. It can also help regulate your digestive system, too, so if you’ve been struggling with indigestion and heartburn, exercise may help.
Remember how I said that workouts don’t have to be long to yield benefits? I recently read that ten minutes of exercise a day can improve your sleep cycle. This is particularly true if you exercise several hours before bedtime because the warm-up/cool-down cycle primes you for a good night’s sleep. If you exercise outdoors, you have the added advantage of regulating melatonin, a hormone associated with sleep. Most of us are low on melatonin, mostly because we don’t get enough natural sunlight. Restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea are also reduced in people who exercise regularly. If you currently suffer from a sleep disorder, it might take you a bit longer to see the effects, so stick with the program!
Obviously, anxiety is the enemy of self-confidence, so the fact that exercise can dial back anxious thoughts is a good thing. Physical activity improves self-confidence in other ways, too. For one thing, when we exercise, we tend to set little (or big) goals for ourselves. This might be as small as committing to exercise three times a week, or as big as training for a marathon. Either way, setting and achieving goals is shown to boost self-confidence. With the warmer months upon us, you should consider doing more of your exercising outdoors, because it’s been linked to improved self-esteem and confidence.
At the end of the day, “Because I need it,” ought to be a good enough reason to exercise. Remember that life is too short to waste it away with a body that is not at its best. It is important to God that we take care of our bodies, but it is also clear that it is the right thing to do for YOU!
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