I’ve started doing something different. Something that has transformed by life. I always read about it in research articles, magazines, and even heard people rave about its life changing benefits. For a little while after I came across the hype, I promised to start the very next day. However, as hours turned into days my enthusiasm wavered, and finally collapsed, as excuses took over and became the crutch I leaned on. For many years my mind was occupied by self defeating statements such as, “I have no time, I’m too tired, I have too much to do, the children are too young, I don’t have enough money.” You name it, I said it!
I’m proud to say I finally broke the self perpetuating cycle and I started to exercise! Sounds so simple doesn’t it? But ask anyone who doesn’t regularly exercise how hard it is to get into the groove. I used to think moving around the house as I clean, taking a brisk walk, or playing outside with my children was enough. Although all excellent efforts, I believe they are the appetizer to your meal. The real fun, the real effects are felt when you start pushing your body to its limits. Sounds so cliché, I know. But I’ve succumbed to the cult of exercise and I finally understand why people are joining every second.
Yes of course as a health promotion advocate I’m suppose to promote exercise for all the empirical scientific evidence, and all the positive self-reports by people who engage in it, right? I’ll be honest, for years that’s exactly what I did.
But now, there is a change in my step literally speaking. I can finally speak from personal experience. Exercise has changed my life-spiritually, emotionally and physically.
In my blog I speak a lot about happiness. That’s because a lot of my work involves working with women who feel empty, sad, and overwhelmed with life’s stresses. When asked what is the one feeling you want at this present moment? Happiness is at the top of their list.
Now I’m not saying exercise is the answer to all your problems. But, I strongly believe it can equip you with the ability to handle stress in a more constructive and effective manner. It builds confidence, and self efficacy which in turn influences your ability to change yourself for the better. Exercise allows you to feel in control in an otherwise chaotic world. The process of exercise itself is empowering- setting goals, challenging your body and mind, feeling the pleasures and pain, failing and accomplishing, and that oh so amazing feeling of persevering in the face of difficulty. All ultimately making you feel more happier in life.
My husband has a passion for martial arts, my children I believe run on everlasting batteries. For some reason, I’ve spent years watching them, supporting them, and simply making excuses for why I can’t join them.
You are the only person who can make that decision to start moving your body, and you have to decide why it’s important for you. For me personally it came down to being tired of being tired. Wanting to feel healthier and happier as I fulfill my various roles in this mystifying journey of life. And one of the most important roles for me is to be there for myself first. I wanted to feel satisfied in all areas body, mind and spirit.
Let’s look at the effects of physical activity in a holistic perspective. Hoping that this is enough to get you moving.
Physical activity for the body
I know you don’t need details about this point. As the evidence of body transformations is overwhelming (just google it, u tube it, flip through health and fitness magazines I promise you won’t miss it). So I’ll make it short. I particularly like the website precision nutrition as it cut through the abundance of information out there and provides an actual program one can follow to see results.
Physical activity for the mind
There is a growing body of literature that supports the positive effects of physical activity on the mind. One comprehensive article reviewed 39 independent studies found that exercise provides moderate relief from depression. The evidence is pouring about the effects of exercise on the mind, and its ability to make people mentally and emotionally stronger.
Apart from all the empirical scientific evidence, self reports of people who commit to some type of program whether at a gym, a home workout, or even jogging outside all share the similar positive opinions. One woman at the gym said to me “I never knew what addiction meant, but now I understand, If I don’t workout at least 4 times a week, I feel really sad like something is missing from my life”. What she is referring to is a physiological response from your body that translates into euphoric feelings, also known as runners high. Once upon a time, I would have rolled my eyes at the over exaggeration, but now I can relate, and instead join in the conversation.
Physical activity for the soul.
Lastly, but in my opinion equally important is how physical activity can be liberating for your spiritual connection. Here is my take on things. Most of us have a spiritual side, a physical side and mental side. All three need to be intact in order to get the most out of worship. We can’t worship satisfactorily if we’re tired, stressed or spaced out. Yes we certainly can engage in the movements, say the words, and pat ourselves on the back for having prayed. However to feel the true effects of worship- peace, calm, and serenity we need to be fully present, body, mind and soul.
So how do we get our soul present? Well I’m sure there are many ways. However since we’re discussing exercise, let’s stick to it. Physical movements cause a chemical reaction in our bodies. One of which is to release a plethora of hormones that are good for our minds. These hormones in the right balance enable us to release stressful feelings, which exert a positive shift in our emotional state, such as being calmer, more at peace, and focused. Our mind frees up from all the clutter and is able to reconnect better with our spiritual side. In this state we are able to reap the most from our worship, instead of being distracted by thoughts and emotions.
The effects can’t be told, or read. It’s something you have to experience.
How long will you sit still waiting for a miraculous solution to your condition? Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, disconnected, unhealthy, weak, over or underweight can all be sorted by starting to exercise. If that’s not the magical pill you’re waiting for, I’m sorry to say you’ll be waiting a lifetime. So start moving today, join a gym, walk, jog, bike, or pop in a DVD at home. If you are physically able, you owe yourself the gift of a healthier body, mind and spirit. You will begin to feel stronger, confident, and calmer throughout your days. And remember health comes from the perseverance of healthy habits!
For those with health care concerns always consult with your health care provider before starting any exercise program.