It’s no secret that exercising is good for our health. We’re all aware of this fact in some capacity. The problem is that somewhere along the line, the diet industry hijacked this health-conscious message, and made exercise synonymous with ‘weight loss’ - leading everybody to believe that losing weight is the ONLY reason to workout.
Why is this problematic?
There are MANY reasons why pushing weight loss as a marker of health and a motivation to exercise is not only misinformative, but potentially damaging. For one, it favours one type of body - thin, long, and lean (which is actually influenced by predetermined genetics FAR MORE than it is affected by your level of health). These impossible standards negatively impact body image - making people feel deflated and less worthy when they fail to achieve an idealized image of ‘fitness’. This mindset drives many people to engage in dangerous, extreme behaviors in an attempt to meet societal standards.
On top of this, a focus on weight loss overshadows the vast range of ACTUAL health benefits that regular exercise promotes. People are inclined to fixate on their outer appearance, while neglecting the amazing, internal rhythms of our bodies that keep us functioning optimally!
So, as the title of this article anticipates, I’m going to combat these societal standards, and tell you 3 reasons to work out on the reg that have NOTHING to do with weight loss!
1. Long term health
There are millions of complex processes occurring inside our bodies at any moment - just to keep us alive! Regular movement supports the large majority of these. From our cardio-vascular system, nervous system, and immune system, to joint and bone health - exercise is a sure fire way to help guarantee longevity- increasing our potential to live a longer, healthier, pain-free life!
2. Mental health
Still HUGELY underestimated: our mental health affects our lives greatly, and with 1 in 4 of us likely to experience poor mental health every year, it is not something to be overlooked. Physical activity encourages the release of key chemicals in the brain including serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, all of which can help to regulate our moods, relieve feelings of anxiety and depression, and boost our energy.
Focusing on what our bodies can DO instead of what they LOOK like is a far better method of improving our self-esteem and confidence. The feeling of getting fitter, stronger, faster, and more mobile can be incredibly rewarding - making us feel accomplished and proud. These feelings can positively impact all areas of our lives, improving self-image and confidence, and empowering us to pursue our goals with more vigor and tenacity!
So, how regular is regular enough?
“How many days a week should I work out?” is a common question I get asked as a coach, and the answer is really as many as you can! BUT, it is important to understand that a workout does NOT have to be an hour long, high intensity session. The truth is, like eating food, it is better for our bodies to move little and often rather than going from 0-100 once a week! Walking, stretching - even doing some physical housework or gardening - are great ways to keep our bodies ticking over and working well. The most important thing, to reap all the benefits of exercise, is to find a routine that is enjoyable and achievable for YOU. That way you won’t have to rely on ‘motivation’, but it will simply become a lifestyle.
A lifestyle that supports your health and happiness - YAY!
Written by: Marissa Hussain