Do You Take the Time to Exercise?
If you are like most individuals in today’s world there seem to be so many things pulling you in so many different directions every day. The amount of things to do, people to see, tasks to accomplish, etc. can seem overwhelming. This too while the advance of technology makes information more accessible and things easier and quicker to do than even 10 years ago. Often lost in the mix of so many “to do” lists is needed daily time for personal maintenance, growth and improvement. Particularly when life gets “hectic” or “busy” one of the first things to go or be sacrificed for many is time for daily exercise and physical activity.
We have become soft as a society in many ways. Gone are the days where most of us need to endure hard physical labor out in the field or back breaking chores on the farm from dawn to dusk. We like the temperature of our house a perfect 70 degrees all year round, we wrap ourselves in soft clothing, wear thick-soled shoes to protect our feet from harm, lay on soft cushy beds draped in silky covers and can scarcely go 10 minutes without checking the latest social media updates.
The Pampered Self vs. the Happiest Self
To a large degree we have been pampered more than most previous generations combined. Collectively the temptation to sleep in, wait until tomorrow, say “I don’t feel like it,” go to bed early or concoct a myriad of other excuses instead of push ourselves to exercise when we are the most mentally and physically drained (which is actually when we need it the most) can be great. Yet the happiest and most successful people in the world are those who know the secret and power of frequent intense physical activity. In reality, to be your best self—your most productive, energetic, kind, and passionate self—rigorous exercise four to five times a week isn’t optional. It is a must. When you learn these five reasons why the most productive, happy and top performers in the world take exercise seriously you won’t need anymore engineered “motivation” to light a fire in you. It will be natural.
1. People Who Exercise Frequently Have More Energy than those Who Don’t.
It would seem counter-intuitive that those who may have the most demands on their time, resources and physical and mental energies would have any “extra” energy to exercise. Believe it or not, regular exercise has been proven in the scientific literature for years to increase energy levels and reduce overall fatigue. All groups of individuals studied from children, adolescents, adults with diabetes, heart conditions and other chronic diseases show significant increase in subjective energy levels when frequent activity is a part of their schedule. (1) This is partly due to increases in the levels of energy-promoting and mood-enhancing neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin as well as endorphins. Also on a cellular level mitochondria—mini power plants that produce energy—multiply, meaning that your body can produce more energy. Forget about the coffee, the fancy sports or energy drink or the latest stimulant supplement on the market and become committed to a new exercise routine and watch your energy soar.
2. People Who Exercise Frequently Enjoy Better Overall Physical Health.
One of the more obvious benefits of regular exercise is improved physical health. Research has shown that exercise can slow or help prevent heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis (bone loss), and loss of muscle mass. It boosts immune function, helps prevent and treat achy and arthritic joints and even slows the aging process. It also improves the function and efficiency of your cardiovascular system thus enhancing blood flow to all tissues and organs. Independent of any diet it has been shown to cure blood pressure (2) , control blood sugar as well or better than any type of insulin for some, and reduce your risk of many types of cancers. (3) I believe the main reason I never personally get sick is because I won’t let anything interfere with my exercise routine. In fact, when I feel the prodrome of sickness come on I have historically done a specific type of workout and it has halted any progression of sickness before it starts.
3. People Who Exercise Frequently are Actually Smarter and More Intelligent.
One of the less talked about benefits of exercise is the improvement it has on overall mental and cognitive function. Dr. John Ratey, author of “Spark – The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” says that exercise improves your brain in the short term by raising your focus for two to three hours afterwards. If you have a presentation or speaking engagement try to work out beforehand; you’ll be at your peak when you have to perform. It is like steroids or miracle-grow for the brain. It has also been shown to improve memory. This is accomplished through a specific molecule called irisin that is produced in the brain during endurance exercise through a chain reaction. Irisin is believed to have neuroprotective effects. (4) Exercise has been proven to promote neurogenesis by increasing brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF literally causes new brain cells to be born and grow and is linked to your ability to learn faster, remember more, and improve overall brain function. Every time you exercise you not only can grow your muscles but grow your brain too!
4. People Who Exercise Frequently are More Confident.
Another under-appreciated aspect of exercise is the effect it has on your emotional well being. According to the Mental Health Foundation, self-esteem refers to how you truly feel about yourself at your core. It is also “a key indicator of our mental well being and our ability to cope with life stressors.” (5) It is obvious how exercise can make you powerful on the outside, but the greatest benefit is really the internal sense of confidence that grows with each passing workout. A 2000 study published in the International Journal of Sport Psychology found that regular physical activity was a highly effective way of building self-confidence for people who stuck to a consistent workout routine for six months. (6) Similarly researchers have shown that it is actually the new brain cell growth stimulated by exercise that is most responsible for the mood altering effects that equal or even surpass the effects of many popular anti-depressants. (7) Imagine a more confident, more assertive, more certain You not phased or deterred in the slightest by things around you. Give me 60 days and you will be brimming with more confidence than any self-help book, therapy session or make over could ever could give you.
5. People Who Exercise Frequently “Feel Better” Most of the Time.
To me the greatest benefit of exercise is that it makes me feel good. That may sound a little juvenile or overly simplistic but it is the greatest reason to push yourself to new heights through the vehicle of exercise. We as human beings are always in the process of seeking pleasure and avoiding the pain. The irony is that the temporary pain of intense physical exertion always leads to more permanent and lasting pleasure. The euphoria and orgasmic sensation of pleasure from exercise you experience is one of the greatest true “highs” any human can ever imagine. No recreational drugs or illegal substances are needed. No flurry of likes or positive comments on social media are necessary. The natural release of serotonin (“the happy chemical”), the rush of dopamine (“the pleasure molecule”), the exhilaration of endorphins (“the runners high”) the bliss of endocannabinoids (body’s own natural marijuana) just make life worth living.
Arnold Schwarzenegger had it right when he explained the muscle pump that releases this exultant mix of chemicals during exercise feels very much like the pleasure a man and woman feel during intimacy. It makes a bad day good, a great day exceptional and dissolves away feelings of doubt, hopelessness and anxiety transmuting them into deep currents of well-being. The reality is exercise trains your mind even more so than your body and is the key to the health of your entire being. Want to not only look like a million bucks but feel like a million bucks? Tap into the power of exercise.
Comment below: What keeps you from exercising regularly? How can I help you start an exercise routine you will love and stick with? What does exercise do for you personally?
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