Benefits of exercise

Our internal motivation to exercise

Many people’s primary motivation to exercise is looking good on the outside, but I’d like us to consider a radical change of emphasis and make our main motivator to exercise to feel good on the inside – mentally, emotionally and physically.  Why?  Because by only focusing on the external we can easily set unrealistic expectations, which often lead to disappointment when they don’t materialise quickly enough: “I’m not losing enough weight”, “my muscles don’t look toned”, “my tummy isn’t flat enough” and so on.  This leads many to just give up, and miss out on the many other valuable benefits resulting from regular exercise.

Sadly, this is a common occurrence but you and I can be different!  A massive advantage of focusing on feeling good on the inside is that we’ll experience changes very quickly – even after just one exercise session! As we experience positive internal changes day-by-day and week-by-week, we’ll reinforce our motivation to keep active and keep going!
But please understand that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good externally and, with the right perspective, this too will improve our mental and emotional wellbeing.  As with many things, it’s about striking the right balance.  But the very high pressure of modern society to look ever more perfect on the outside often creates an unhealthy imbalance, which can damage us internally – mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Here’s the good news!  As our motivation is fed by our positive experiences, we’ll not want to give up and as a result, we’ll then start to notice positive external changes, such as:

  • Losing weight (if relevant)
  • Improved posture
  • Flatter tummies
  • Better complexion
  • Firmer backsides
So come, join me in not allowing yourself to be manipulated by negative pressures and make your main motivation to exercise to feel good on the inside.  This is a motivation that lasts because the benefits we experience are very real, and we can be satisfied that, in good time, we’ll experience external changes too.

Consider some of the many internal benefits we can experience:

  •     Thinking clearly
  •     Sleeping better
  •     Feeling stronger to tackle other lifestyle changes
  •     More get-up-and-go!
  •     Increased enthusiasm
  •     A sense of achievement
  •     Feeling in control
  •     Increased strength to cope with life’s pressures
  •     More alert with improved concentration 
  •     Able to relax
  •     Enjoying ‘me time’
And guess what?  We can actually enjoy the exercise experience!  Movement – being able to walk, dance, run, jump, hop, skip, etc – is a wonderful gift, so let’s embrace it!  Even individuals with physical limitations take this to heart – just look at the Paralympics for example.

Additionally, you and I can enjoy the satisfaction that we’re reducing the risk of many health conditions, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Osteoporosis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Joint and back problem
  • Dementia in later life

If you’re living with a medical condition, regular, appropriate exercise will significantly help its effective management.

Other experiences that feed our mental and emotional wellbeing are:

  • Becoming aware that we’re walking/ cycling/swimming/dancing etc. for longer and faster!
  • Being able to meet life’s physical demands more easily with some in reserve (e.g. gardening, moving furniture, carrying or playing with children and general living).

Imagine for a moment that you and I are in a supermarket together and all these benefits are products on the shelves.  How full would your trolley be at the checkout?  And the price?  Embracing movement and regularly (choose as appropriate) walking / dancing / skipping / running / playing / swimming / home-exercise / attending appropriate classes / using a gym / playing sports.

These things are too good to miss, so let’s make time for ourselves and get more active.

Try the simple exercise shown overleaf (and the one in the previous issue!) and build solid foundations for good all-round health, wellbeing and quality of life. 

Why not increase your walking too by 5-10 minutes a day?  And a simple but effective tip for success: exercise with a friend!  You may let yourself down occasionally but you are less likely to let your friend down (and vice versa!) 

And join me in the next issue where we look at overcoming specific barriers and setting achievable goals.

Your rating: None Average: 8.9 (7 votes)