Why Exercise?

Hearing a statement like "reducing caloric consumption is the key to losing weight" or "you can't out-exercise a poor diet" may leave you wondering why in the world you would ever waste your time, not to mention money, at the gym. Well, despite the fact that both of the above statements are true, exercise is anything but a waste of time...

You may ask yourself, why bother with exercise if weight loss happens in the kitchen? Can't I just learn to meal plan and/or count my calories? Well, If you are seriously asking yourself these questions then I would have to assume you are unsure about the difference between losing weight and creating a healthy lifestyle.

One thing we all have in common is that we all endure stresses which we cannot control. Did you know that stress causes hormonal changes to our body that can complicate our plans to lose weight, even when we're counting calories and planning every meal? For most, just reading that last sentence caused some level of stress! The good news is that we can learn to control the effects that stress has on our mind, body, and soul.

There are endless research articles pointing out how the benefits of exercise go far beyond physique. One of these articles is from the Mayo Clinic (link below). It lists 7 benefits of exercise that I will discuss in further detail.

1. Weight control: "Exercise is not as much about weight loss, as it is a way to help you control your weight." This statement speaks volumes! Many conversations I have with people starting a new exercise lifestyle are astonished by the small amount of calories that are burnt during their workouts. This lack of awareness is often what leads people to reward themselves with food post workout, ultimately leaving them frustrated over the long haul as to why their weight doesn't change as they expect it to.

What exercise does do is add muscle tissue, which incrementally increases your caloric needs at rest (allowing you to burn more calories). The small amount of calories you do burn during your workout is probably enough to cover the cookie you sneaked when no one was looking, or the extra latte you treated yourself to, but that's it. What your 60 minute routine will not do is balance out your double cheeseburger, or the pizza and beer you enjoyed after work.

2. Combating health issues and diseases: The list of health risks and concerns that can be helped in one way or another through exercises is a long one, so without making you snore, the best way to sum this up is that there are many men and women in white lab coats running endless studies worldwide to find out the specific ways exercise effects our physiology. Long story short, it does, and only in beneficial ways. There is probably no study anywhere in the google world, or even in a medical journal, that will tell you there are adverse effects on your body if you engage in moderate exercise on a regular basis.

3. Improves mood: "Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed." Even when you're tired or dreading your workout, I will guarantee that your mood afterwards will relatively improve. Sometimes, just knowing that you have accomplished something can leave you feeling better and boost your overall self-esteem. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and release pent up aggression in a socially acceptable way.

4. Boosts energy: Oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your tissues via your circulatory system. To quickly sum up the cardiovascular and muscular effects of exercise: oxygen and nutrients are more efficiently delivered to your tissues when your heart and lung health has improved. Over time, this results in increased energy. 

5. Promotes better sleep: I read a humorous meme recently that said "My bed is a magical place where I suddenly remember everything I was supposed to do." I am confident in saying that we have all found ourselves in that scenario! When we lack restful sleep due to stress and anxiety our hormones are not able to regulate. Our hormones control the function of our internal world, and during certain stages of sleep our body is able to repair and reset itself. What I find many people overlook is the concept that exercise is the breaking down of muscle tissue. It is during sleep, and via proper diet, that the muscle tissue repairs and becomes stronger and denser. That aside, exercise done at the correct intensity will help you feel a need for sleep when it is time to finally crawl into bed... even if your chita vriti (monkey mind) doesn't want to shut up and let you sleep.

Speaking of hormones....

6. Puts the spark back in your sex life: Exercise can increase your desire for intimacy. This may have something to do with your sudden boost in confidence due to changes to your physique. But according to more men and women in white lab coats at the Mayo Clinic, "Regular physical activity may enhance arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than men who don't exercise."

7. Exercise can be fun, and can be a social outlet: As adults, we sometimes may feel as though we are stuck in a social rut. What a great excuse to go out and meet up with likeminded people who may even help you achieve your fitness goals through encouragement and/or accountability!

One additional benefit I would personally add is that regular exercise (based on the functionality of your routine) can lead to a reduction in aches and pains, as well as make daily physical tasks easier to accomplish.

So how much exercise do you need in order to achieve the aforementioned benefits? Well, the Mayo Clinic recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity (getting your heart rate up between 110 and 140 beats per minute). This breaks down to about 30 minutes per day, or 60 minutes roughly 4 days per week.

Each person’s specific goals will determine what training intensity is right for them. For more information on how to determine what intensity is right for you, please feel free to contact me at Jessica@traininhome.com.