20 reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with how you look!
Tom and I were recently sitting around our patio table with some friends, and with a cup of tea and a slice of freshly baked banana loaf on the table, we found ourselves discussing the different advantages, beyond weight loss and aesthetics, for consistently exercising, no matter what age you are.
It was a really interesting discussion and I thought I’d share with you 20 of the reasons we came up with.
In our experience as personal trainers/nutritionist/yoga teacher, the large majority of our clients who come to see us have very clear goals in mind, that are usually centred around their outward appearance. We 100% support anyone who wants to make a positive shift to their body image; we know that as soon as exercise becomes a more regular feature in a person’s day to day life, it will have a natural ripple effect in so many other areas: their relationship with themselves, their confidence levels, the quality of the conversations and
time spent with their partners and kids, their mental health and their energy, stress and anxiety levels. Humans are designed to move their bodies and, if it could be marketed as a drug, every health professional would prescribe it!
Exercise looks different to everyone; for some it is a hike along the Cami or a beach walk with the dog, for others it’s yoga in their living room, going to a group fitness class or buddying up with a friend and lifting weights in a gym.
Let’s discuss the motive behind exercising, and I’ll share with you how to set yourself up for success, so that you don’t fall prey to being a yo-yo exerciser.
In today’s society, it is ingrained that we exercise to lose weight or to put an ‘exercise deposit in the calorie bank’ so that we can overindulge at a later date, without guilt. Research shows that focusing solely on weight loss as a reason for exercise, which may be unattainable at times due to life’s curveballs, can be highly detrimental to our physical and mental health and can lead to disordered eating behaviours, restricted eating patterns and/or over-exercising.
Recent research also shows that having an exercise motive linked to one’s body image, is more often associated with poorer health behaviours such as less physical activity and a more negative body image. Body image as the driving factor behind exercise has also been shown to increase the likelihood of a lower self-esteem, symptoms or depression and negative feelings towards our bodies. When we’re not in a positive space mentally, this has a direct affect on our food choices and in my experience, our life choices.
On the flipside, focusing on the functionality of the body has been linked to greater health promoting behaviours and a more positive body image. It has been found that when teenage females are focussed on their fitness achievements (flexibility, strength, performance) versus their appearance-related achievements (weight loss, trimmer waist, reduction in dress size) this influenced the sustainability (and enjoyment) of their exercise routine.
Here are 20 non-aesthetic but very practical and life-changing benefits to exercising, that we often take for granted, until they’re gone.
- You will be able to tie up your shoelaces into your old age – this requires flexibility.
- You will be able to lift your hold luggage above your head into the overhead compartments without assistance – this requires core strength.
- Mental health – adults who participate in daily activity have a 20–30% lower risk of depression and dementia.
- It’s the best antidepressant, with no unexpected side effects other than sweat.
- You will have more energy – who doesn’t want that?!
- It will improve your confidence.
- You will sleep better.
- You will be able to open bottles and cans without having to ask a neighbour!
- It’s anxiolytic (anxiety reducing).
- You will have a reduced chance of developing arthritis, stiff/painful joints.
- You will be more productive at EVERY other thing you do.
- It’s a privilege to be able to train. Someone somewhere is paralysed or doesn’t have use of their body and dreams about exercising.
- It increases your sex drive.
- You will reduce your chance of developing osteoporosis (brittle bones) radically.
- You will have better balance which will in turn reduce your chance of falling – exercise, particularly weight training, helps prevent injuries by strengthening your muscles and connective tissue like tendons, ligaments and cartilage that support your body structure.
- Exercise increases your ability to breathe and strengthens your lungs.
- The fitter you are, the more social activities you can participate in – walks, beach cleans, playing with the grandkids, dog walking.
- It helps improves learning and memory.
- Read the list again and get moving your body!
- Still thinking of opting out?
I hope one or more of the above inspire you to move your body this summer (and beyond) for reasons of functionality rather than pure aesthetics!
Here’s to a great summer.
Jess and Tom