8 Reasons To Exercise That Have Nothing To Do With How You Look & Everything To Do With How You Feel
I have to admit that, more often than not, I'd rather snuggle with my pup or dive into the novel I've been devouring than get dressed for the gym. I mean, once I get started with a workout, I usually genuinely enjoy the way it feels, but finding the sheer motivation to exercise can often be the biggest challenge. After all, puppies are just objectively better than push-ups. But there are lots of reasons to exercise that can actually inspire you, that focus on how you feel rather than how you look, so you're not just dreading the trip to the gym every single time you decide to go.
It's so easy to think of exercise as something that only affects your body, especially since you can physically see your body change, but your mind really does reap significant benefits from a little sweat time here and there, too.
If you generally have a hard time getting inspired to move your body, consider adding in a charitable component, suggests Bethany Rutledge, fitness coach and author of the book Courage to Tri. "Through coaching athletes of all kinds for many years," she tells Elite Daily in an email, "I've found that exercising for a cause like a charity event can have a profound effect on mental health and other areas of life."
Whether you chase the sweat for the focus it brings your mind or the connection it helps you form with your own body, here are some reasons to keep moving.
The workout itself serves as motivation
"Working out gives you a sense of accomplishment," says Jessica Tappana, MSW, LCSW, therapist and founder of Aspire Counseling. "It feels good to know you've done something. Working out allows you to push yourself a little bit harder each day and you can see measurable results."
Whether you're working on your handstand or training for a marathon, watching yourself grow stronger can prove to yourself that you can do more than you might have previously given yourself credit for.
Exercise inspires you to put yourself out there
Staying at home with your pet, a home-cooked meal, and your favorite TV show is so easy to do when life is stressful and having an active social life requires a good deal of scheduling. But if you're trying to push yourself out of your comfort zone, working out can actually be a great first step to getting there. "Just getting up and out of the house to go work out increases the chances that you'll get out for other things, too," Tappana tells Elite Daily.
It can help with symptoms of depression and/or anxiety
You've probably already heard of how exercise can benefit your mental health, but what you might not realize is that you really don't need to work out that intensely, or even for that long, to help soothe certain symptoms of anxiety or depression, says Bill McCadden, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in St. Louis.
Of course, exercise alone should not be used to treat depression or anxiety, McCadden explains, but even something as simple a short walk around the block can offer relief during a tense moment or soothe your mind when you feel frazzled.
A workout helps you feel more present in your body
Pilates instructor Conni Ponturo tells Elite Daily that exercise can connect you with your own body. "It allows you to feel present in your body and you learn how to listen to what your body is telling you," she explains.
For example, Ponturo says, learning how to listen to your body can help you better recognize things like neck pain or back pain, and you can then tailor different exercises to strengthen or be gentle on those specific parts of your body.
It also sharpens your mind
According to LJ Kunkel, certified trainer and creator of Fit Body Beats, a good ol' sweat sesh can often help you think more clearly. "Much research shows that regular exercise is a big brain-booster, impacting the ability to learn, recall information, and think quickly — all skills that enhance performance in school, work, and life in general," she tells Elite Daily.
It'll improve your sleep schedule
Despite what you might have heard about exercising at night, your workout actually can improve your sleep, explains Kunkel. "A study in Mental Health and Physical Activity reported that those who spent 150 minutes per week exercising (the national guideline) experienced 65 percent better sleep quality," she explains.
You'll sharpen your problem-solving skills
Going for a long run outside is one of the few times when I feel like I can truly think distraction-free. If you're struggling with a difficult decision in your life, exercising could actually help you arrive at a solution, says psychotherapist and consultant Lauren Canonico, LCSW. "Many of my patients describe coming to major 'aha' moments during peak runner's or yoga 'high,'" she tells Elite Daily.
You'll feel empowered
"Exercise can help to shift a person’s focus away from how their body looks to what their body can do," says licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Kristin Bianchi. "When we exercise, we are making our bodies stronger, improving their stamina, and increasing their range of functionality."