You’ve been told you need to exercise before, but maybe you haven’t found a really great reason to add it to your daily routine. My motivation for exercise comes and goes, but I notice some pretty significant differences in my attitude and energy levels when I make time for it.
The benefits of regular exercise happen quickly. In the first few days of my new routine, I started noticing these changes. No marathon hours at the gym either. I saw results with just 3-4 half hour workouts a week. I’m not spending 2 hours working out each day, there’s just no time for that!
Full disclosure: I don’t really love exercise, and I can’t stand waking up to an alarm clock, but I find the benefits outweigh that. Here are the 5 ways I reap the benefits of exercise:
1. Reduced anxiety
I consider myself a highly-functioning basket case, but occasionally, stress gets the best of me. I’ve noticed that when I get into a good routine of exercising consistently, those bad days are fewer and farther in between.
According to a study outlined in this Harvard article, even a single bout of exercise can help relieve anxiety, and the more the better! If you’re feeling anxious, try heading outside for a quick walk around, and if it’s chronic, consider more regular exercise to help prevent it.
2. Better sleep
I’ve always been a light sleeper, commonly tossing and turning, waking several times during the night. Even though I don’t feel more tired at bedtime when I exercise, I sleep much more soundly, and wake well-rested, even to the sound of my early alarm. This might not be the case if I chose to exercise at night, which this article describes. Studies show that endorphins released with exercise may keep you awake, which is great during the day, but not as you're winding down for sleep. Although, the BEST time to exercise is simply any time you can fit it in.
3. Less hungry/less cravings
It seems counterintuitive, but burning calories with moderate or intense exercise actually reduces hormones responsible for hunger in the body. On days when I complete a workout on my spin bike, I feel much less hungry vs days I take the dog for a leisurely stroll. This benefit lasts all day!
This may help you stay within a calorie goal if weight loss is intended, or may simply help you keep portions in check to maintain weight. Current research supports the theory that an increase in core temperature with movement decreases hunger signals. This is similar to phenomenon like eating lighter during the summer, or a reduced appetite after eating spicy food. More on that theory here.
4. Feel more confident
Confident how? Physically, mentally, spiritually, everything. I feel confident that my body can handle physical exertion, and it gives me stamina to run after my toddler without getting winded. The mental clarity I get makes me feel good about my to-do list, enhancing my overall production levels at work and at play.
5. Better energy levels
You would think that getting up an hour early and physically exhausting yourself would have negative consequences. Quite the contrary. I actually find my early morning exercise routine pumps me with energy that lasts all day, and past 7pm (my usual crash point). This partly has to do with sleeping better, but researchers note that exercise brings oxygen and nutrients to muscles and cells that enhance their energy production. That’s right, exerting energy allows your body to create much more on the flipside! (see link to ACE article).
Long term benefits
While I noticed these benefits short term, you may see even bigger results when you stick with it. Over time, regular exercise helps with weight management and loss by increasing your resting metabolism. Plus your body tends to pull fat away from visceral sources (areas around your organs) first. Less stress on your insides means your body can work under less stress, even if your weight loss is minimal. You'll likely see positive changes to your cholesterol profile, blood pressure, blood sugar and A1C levels. Your next yearly physical could be a much more positive experience!
Of course, more energy, better sleep and lower anxiety or depression are all positives as well. There really is no downside here. As for the incessant buzz of my alarm clock, I’m getting used to it. Now that I’m into a good routine, most of the time, I’m waking before it goes off anyway.
If you struggle fitting exercise into your busy schedule, or just aren’t sure how to get started, I’m happy to help. Schedule a consultation for help making positive changes to your diet, exercise and wellness routine!