I will admit that maintaining a healthy weight is of great importance to me. I struggle with a frustrating 5 pound fluctuation in my weight (5 little pounds that is most likely only noticeable to me). I have been known to obsess about having a flatter tummy, smaller thighs, or skinnier arms. I have even asked my boyfriend the dreaded question: "Does this make me look fat?" But I am not alone. I would say 90% of my clients have similar struggles. Male and female, most my clients work out with weight loss as a primary goal. Males often want a smaller waist line and larger muscles. Females often want to be smaller all around with less jiggle around the arms, legs, and abdomen. We all want a sexy body, and we work hard to get it.
But how would it change our attitude towards exercise if having a sexy body was not the only goal? There are so many benefits of exercise that have nothing to do with a tight butt and bulging biceps, and if we look at the big picture it may give us more motivation to keep working hard.
Here are some benefits that may not be on the top of your list in terms of goals, but never the less could be helpful to keep in mind:
Regular cardiovascular exercise decreases your chance of heart disease, lung disease, and stroke. Strength training keeps bone mass density high to prevent osteoporosis. People who stay active also have lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and certain cancers such as breast and colon cancer. Also, your immune system gets a boost every time you work out, so chances of picking up the common cold or flu are also decreased.
Stronger muscles and bones mean less tears, sprains, breaks, and fractures. Exercise also improves balance and coordination, so there is less risk of injury due to slips and falls. This also means let money devoted to hospital bills in the future.
Working out on a regular basis keeps you feeling happy and thinking clearly. When you exercise the chemical phenylethylamine (the body's mood regulator) is released from the brain. Endorphins (happy chemicals in the body) are also increased and cortisol (the body's stress hormone) is decreased. The result is improved sense of well being and less tendency towards depression. Also, exercise increases the growth of neurons (brain cells) and strengthens the connections between these cells. The result is a quicker, sharper, and more alert mental state.
There is no doubt that physical appearance plays a role in this one, but it is more than just the body image that boosts self esteem. The sense of accomplishment that comes after an intense workout is really something to feel good about. It leaves you feeling confident, energized, and ready to take on the next challenge-whatever that may be.
Want to keep things functioning properly in the bedroom? Increased circulation, oxygen intake, muscle tone, endurance, and flexibility make climaxing easier for both men and women. Plus, men are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction and impotence when they stay active. Try a few kegles as well, and you will really gain control of your sensual side!
Studies from Stanford University School of Medicine found that people who exercise daily had less problems falling asleep and a better quality of sleep in general. The body temperature dips 5 to 6 hours after exercise, and this may help in deepening your sleep.
This one might be the most important benefit of all. Exercise helps us live long, healthy lives. Breaking a sweat at least three times per week can add years to your life. Plus, having a healthy, well functioning body will make those extra years more enjoyable.
I am not encouraging folks to let go of weight loss goals. In fact, weight loss goes hand in hand with many of these benefits, but I truly believe it would be helpful to look at the big picture. When you are young and invincible it is really easy to focus solely on the external, the hot body, the ideal number on the scale. But we all want to live our lives to the fullest right? We want better sleep, better sex, less money and time devoted to illness and injury, and the most important--more time on this planet to enjoy life.
...so think about that next time you are breaking a sweat!