Question you may ask yourself daily, weekly or monthly. It doesn’t matter, at some point it does come up. Either you’re a regular at the gym or someone who gets annoyed just when, they hear a word “gym”. I was both. Someone who thought will bulk up, if I lift a 10lbs DB and someone who couldn’t think about going into the gym and use a machine, that I didn’t even know how to use. Today I am someone, who finds a different reason, why I workout almost every time I go to the gym and I can’t imagine my life without it.
You hear your friends say “Let’s go to the gym! It’s fun! You’ll feel great afterwards.” But in your head, all you hear is your inner voice telling you “It’s boring. It hurts and I don’t see a single fun thing, while doing it.” And that’s OK, you are not the only one. I’m here to talk about very good reasons on why you should get involved in some kind of physical activity. There are scientific researches done, that prove exercise will increase your energy level, reduce risk of chronic diseases, increase your bone density, improve your skin and you might lose some weight on the way, too. There is more, but do you really want to hear more? 🙂 You have to master the basics first in order to become an expert.
Endorphins. You probably heard of them before and you know they release during exercise. But how does that really happen? Endorphins (endogenous morphine) are hormones naturally produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland. The principal function of endorphins is to inhibit the communication of pain signals. That pain, that you didn’t want to feel, when your friends invited you to go with them. Endorphins will interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Vigorous aerobic exercise can stimulate the release of β-endorphin, a potent μ-opioid receptor agonist, in the human body, which contributes to phenomenon known as “runners high”. Now, this may explain, what your friends were talking about. Endorphins can even cause a feeling of euphoria. And you probably thought they were on something :).
Chronic disease. We often hear this, but do you really know what it is, how it happens and what are their symptoms? Chronic disease is a condition you can control with treatment for months, years or even a lifetime. Usually, doctors use term chronic for disease that lasts longer than three months. Asthma, diabetes, cancer and depression are common examples. Often, they don’t have a cure, but you can live with them and manage their symptoms. The disease can also go through cycles of growing, shrinking and staying the same. But how can exercise prevent this or make symptoms less present in every day life? Very common reason for most chronic diseases is intra-abdominal fat. That is a layer of fatty tissue that surrounds your organs. Getting regular, moderate-intensity exercise may be critically important, if you want to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases. Where you tend to store body fat is an important determinant of future health. Weight gain in the abdominal area (apple shape) doubles the risk for coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke, compared to individuals of the same overall body fat who tend to store fat in the hips, buttocks, and thighs (pear shape). The reason for this difference seems to be that fat in the abdomen is more easily mobilized and sent into the bloodstream, increasing the disease-related blood fat levels. Reducing intra-abdominal, or visceral fat, is important because in addition to increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, among other conditions, such fat can raise insulin levels, which promotes the growth of cancer cells. Abdominal circumferences of greater than 40 inches (102 cm) in men and 35 inches (89 cm) in women are considered strong indicators of abdominal obesity.
Bone density. Osteoporosis. The most common chronic disease in elderly. About half of all women and a quarter of all men over the age of 50 will break a bone due toosteoporosis. By the time a woman reaches the age of 70, she may have lost as much as 30% of her bone density. How can we make our bones thicker and what actually happens during the exercise? Impact is what makes our bones thinner. The bone senses these small changes and can grow dramatically in order to reduce the risk of breaking. For example, the racket arm bone of tennis players can be 20% wider and contain 40% more bone mineral than their other arm, while sprint runners have up to a third more bone in their shin bone than people who don’t exercise. Swimming and cycling will give you healthy heart, lungs and muscles, but bones will not be much different from people who do not exercise. We seem to need high impacts to produce big enough muscle and impact forces to make our bones change.
Better skin. When you exercise your heart works faster and requires more blood flow to keep up with your pace. By increasing blood flow, exercise helps nourish skin cells and keep them vital. But how? With more blood, comes more oxygen and nutrients to working cells throughout the body. Blood won’t just bring nutrients, it will also carry away waste products (free radicals aka cellular debris) from working cells. Unfortunately, I have to tell you exercise won’t detoxify your skin. This job belongs to our liver. Stress has been linked to skin in some researches and studies have shown that the sebaceous glands, which produce oil in the skin, are influenced by stress hormones. So lift that dumbbell for an extra glow and carry on :).
Weight loss. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. It is that simple. Forget about all the diets, because even, if you follow a restricted diet, if you eat more calories than you burn throughout the day, you will not lose weight. A lot of times is not about, what you eat, but how much you eat it.
You’ve learned your body is capable of a chemical reaction to make your workout less painful, you know how your bones can get thicker, how to make your skin glow and lose some pounds, but you still find yourself with no motivation, desire, energy or plain good reason to workout. If nothing above motivates you, you will have to dig a little deeper into what your reason will be. Because hey, don’t we all live life with some kind of purpose and reasons to get out of bed every morning? You will have to find, what matters to you and I can assure you, you will see that exercise can improve it. Unless you wake up every morning to be unhealthy, because at the end of the day, if you eat donuts and pizza, that is your reality. After you find your reason, you made a first step to potentially starting your workout routine. But, if I’m completely honest, now it’s the time, when you will get to know how determined and consistent you can be as a person.
How to start?
For the sake of this discussion, let’s say that your reason is simply to “be healthier”. I have heard this many times in my personal training career and it is just a little better start than “I don’t know.” Because quite frankly, you need something more specific. The more specific you get, the more chance you have to be successful. When you have your reason, it’s time to make the next step. Exercise. Just a thought of stepping into the gym and asking a front desk employee about their membership options is horrifying. And on top of that, you will probably be able to retest your anatomy knowledge, just by looking at them. There is lots of options out there on how to start your workout routine, but I have to say, going into the gym is the most common and convenient, since there is probably one 5mins from your house. You can also ask one of your “crazy” friends that workout regularly, if they know any trainers or people at the gym, to give you a more private approach, so it won’t feel so intimidating. After you get a basic knowledge on how to use a treadmill and how to hold a dumbbell, it is time to find YOURSELF in this fitness world everyone is so crazy about. Your one and only goal in the beginning has to be to find something, that will make you happy and you will look forward to coming back to (to some extend :)). You might try 10 different workouts/classes, before you find something you like. Kind of like finding a partner. Very rarely you marry the one you have the first date with :). But if you did, I envy you. My experience show that, getting a trainer is probably the best bet in the beginning. Having undivided attention, someone with broad knowledge of different workouts and definitely a few certifications under their belt, will give you an opportunity to find what you like.
All this can apply to all my regulars as well. You might have determination to workout 5-6 days/week (1 day for recovery is a must), but you are not enjoying your workouts anymore, you hit plateau on the way to your fitness goal or your reason from 5 years ago just doesn’t apply anymore because you’ve lost the 20lbs already. Stepping outside of your comfort zone will open the doors to a better you. And isn’t that what life is all about, to be better than you were yesterday?
Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you have any topics you’d like to know more about, feel free to send a message and I will do my best to write on it in my next flog.