I’m no fitness expert and i hate exercise—I can’t give you the perfectly personalized workout to get your chiseled beach bod—but exercise is always on my radar. It’s an important piece to gain that balanced, happy, healthy lifestyle we talk about here on the blog all the time.
I’ve observed how vastly different exercise goals can be, depending on the individual. I’ve also come to find that your goals can change over time. For example: I used to love sports when I was a kid—name the game, I’d play for hours. Through college I was all about hitting up the gym, or kicking butt in a sweaty kickboxing class. But the last few years I’ve considered myself more of a yogi… and an outdoor explorer. I have been enjoying the more relaxed approach to exercise.
If you hate exercise like i hate exercise then you like me probably feel envious when I see the committed Instagram gym heroes working out everyday. But sometimes I’m exhausted just looking at those insta-abs. Or, I’ll think back to my fitness routine in college, wishing I could get back to that “in-shape” point… and then I remind myself that I’m no longer 20 years old- my life and my priorities have changed- and that’s OK! Here’s my conclusion: finding new ways to stay active (and having fun while I do it) is more important than trying stick to the same routine year after year, and far more beneficial than not exercising at all! A 30-minute walk may not be the 10k or Crossfit competition, but it’s getting your heart rate up and getting your tail off the couch.
I know… it’s easier on a Saturday afternoon, post coffee-on-the-couch or pre-lunch-with-the- girlfriends, but a Tuesday morning before work in February? Not. My. Cup. Of. Tea. These days, I often prefer to stay in my warm, cozy bed, hitting snooze for a half-hour.
So, after a couple of warm[er] days, sunnier mornings, and watching the inspirational marathon runners slay on Monday, I’m ready to get back on track! Living a healthy life is more than just eating well. Who’s with me?!
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF REGULAR EXERCISE?
Studies have been looking at the benefits of exercise for years, and it seems like you can pretty much link it’s advantage to everything- what reason resonates most with you?
- Anti-inflammatory: Exercise is inversely associated with CRP levels (C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the body). Basically, the more you exercise, the better you are protecting your body from unnecessary inflammation and stress! Your inflammatory response might be activated after a tough workout when your muscles aren’t used to the work you just put them through- but this acute inflammation that resolves on its own after a few days is nothing to worry about. It’s the low-grade chronic inflammation lingering in the body that’s linked to health consequences [ I am always talking about this… A detailed inflammation blog-post is coming soon 🙂 ] We have more inflammation as we age, with higher excess body fat, and with auto-immune diseases-so incorporate more movement to fight back!
- Mood Meter: When you push yourself enough to get that heart rate up (jump rope, burpies, etc.), endorphins are produced in the brain. Endorphins are neurochemicals, similar to the drug morphine! These chemicals activate opioid receptors in the brain to make you feel more at ease, minimizing pain, and making you feel pretty damn good overall!
And guess what?! Studies have found even 10 minutes (…!!!) of physical activity enhanced mood. That quick burst of activity each day can make a big difference!
- Energy: Sounds a bit contradictory, because you need energy to get up and exercise, but research has found being more active actually reduces fatigue, and it improves attention throughout the day. Plus, exercise can help you sleep better, which gives you even more energy for your day.
- Brain health: In addition to all the above, better circulation, neurochemical action, decreased stress, better sleep and improved cognition, I think it’s safe to say we are taking better care of our brains by exercising! If you’re not convinced, check out this 44-year-longitudinal study comparing cardiovascular fitness with Dementia risk (Spoiler Alert: those in the strong-stamina group had an 88% lower risk of dementia than the other groups.)That’s probably the biggest driver for me, so hopefully you found a motivator too 🙂
LOOKING FOR SOME INSPIRATION TO KICK IT OFF?
- Try a fitness app
- Nike Training Club: Great for taking yourself to the next level. You fill out your basic information and your current activity level, and then decide what you want your fitness goals to be. You can build a weekly plan to fit your own schedule and your own style- whether that be endurance, strength training, cardio, or a mix of everything. The APP measures your progress to help keep you on track, and can pull in your other work outs to count towards your goals. You can also just pull it up as needed for a nice guided exercise if you dig a less regimented approach.
P.S. this app is free, but its options to upgrade are tempting.
- Swork it: Free app that also allows you to choose the type of workout you want (stretch, cardio, strength, total bod, yoga) and the amount of time you want to spend. A little less detailed than Nike training, but it has great visuals.
- Mix it up
- Sign up for a class: and get a weightloss jumpstart Kate has gotten me hooked on spin class (much to my surprise, as spin was quite a shock to my low-key yogi winter). It has been a super fun way to mix up my routine! Motivating music, a phenomenal instructor, and maybe a yummy pressed juice at the end. Heaven!
- Walk & Talk: When I haven’t seen my family or friends in a while, it’s so easy to post up on the couch and spend hours catching up. Why not lace up our sneaks and catch up over a walk?
- Mix up Date-Night: My ideal date is heading to a new cute restaurant and trying as many different things on the menu as possible (I live for apps). Buuut Joe doesn’t always see the need to drive an hour away for a bite to eat. However, making a day of the trip justifies the drive and jazzes up our day together. Finding a bike path on the coast, or a hiking trail near some mountains is more exciting, and gets us moving…plus it typically ends with some type of delicious food.
- Make small changes in your routine
- Take the stairs: I have my own rule at work to walk up anything less than 3 flights. If I do that a few times a day, I’m killing it!
- Dodge the drive-through: Lets be honest, the morning coffee drive through line is not any faster than parking and going in. Spring for it!
- Park further away: We’ve all heard this one. but I still find myself competing to get the closest parking spot at the grocery store for some reason! Join me–let’s fight the urge–because each time you have the chance to incorporate more movement into your day, you are helping your body out! i hate exercise but I still do it.