Almost 100% of the clients I work with have struggled, at one time or another, with committing to a regular workout routine. The most common excuse? Lack of time. Skipping a workout (or many) often left them feeling guilty and shameful. When I asked why they felt that way, more often than not, they did not have a specific reason. They just knew they “should” be exercising and they weren’t.
I spent some time thinking about this, because I know first hand how extremely difficult it is to maintain a healthy habit if you don’t first define why you’re doing it. Without your Why, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to stick with anything long term. I quickly realized that although my clients couldn’t easily define their Why, they had no trouble determining their Why Not.
Not enough time
Work is “crazzzyyy”
Travel (or other unexpected life events)
A lightbulb went off. Interestingly enough, everyone’s Why Not, was exactly the reason why they needed to exercise in the first place. Many of us have this perception that exercise is time consuming, energy draining, and all-in-all, ‘gets in the way’ of our daily lives. But in fact, the opposite is true. Exercise fills the well, charges the battery, and fuels us to be our best selves.
Exercise does not have to mean going to the gym and spending hours on the elliptical going nowhere. It could mean taking a dance class, going for a long walk with your dog, hiking, biking, rollerblading, or jump roping. It can be any activity that increases your heart rate for an extended period of time (30-90 minutes). Here are four reasons why exercise is something not to skip out on.
It Reduces Depression and Anxiety
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), research suggests that exercise may be a “an often-neglected intervention in mental health care.” Aerobic exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression; likely because exercise induces increased blood circulation to the brain. Other hypothesis to explain why this is so include distraction, self-efficacy, and social interaction. While it might be difficult to self-motivate in a state of depression or anxiety, enlisting a support system or even professional help (like a therapist or personal trainer) to stay accountable to an exercise goal might be helpful.
It Increases Productivity
While you might be inclined to skip a morning workout because you just have too much to do, you might want to rethink that decision. Exercise has been proven to improve concentration, provide prolonged mental stamina, enhance creativity and problem solving skills, and even lower stress. Aren’t these all skills and attributes we would love to have more of in the workplace? Instead of thinking of exercise as something that takes you away from work, think of it as something that is going to make your job easier, make you a more productive and effective employee or employer, and maybe even help you earn more money in the long run!
It reinvigorates your commitment to other healthy habits
Because of its far-reaching benefits, exercise is what Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit,” calls a “Keystone” habit. Think of it as the first domino in the line of a thousand. You exercise, and you trigger hundreds of other healthy habits to fall into place. After all, how can we find the will to create healthier habits when we don’t do anything that makes us feel healthy?
It Increases Self Confidence
Through our program CYCLE Kids, we teach school aged children how to ride bikes. While everyone knows that bike riding is great exercise, we’ve found that it also instills confidence in our students. Mastering a new skill such as riding a bike, or nailing a cardio dance combination, not only improves coordination and cardiovascular fitness, it can make you feel more confident and increase your self esteem. Setting mini mile markers with your workouts can help keep you motivated and give you that sense of accomplishment every time you exercise. It could be something as simple as exploring a new route on your morning walk, challenging yourself to take a new class, or increasing your biking mileage.
Why do you exercise? Or why will you start? Let us know in the comments below!