Do you exercise regularly?
Five Benefits of Exercising.
Get ready to Workout!
Once upon a time, I would have happily drunk beer and eaten frozen pizza while reading a book and pursuing the life of a pseudo-intellectual musician. None of this was necessarily bad, but I was largely ignoring my physical body and overall health.
Over the last couple of years, I have worked hard to throw exercise into my weekly routine in order to enhance both my health and sense of happiness. It’s not far-fetched to believe that the mind and body are connected and that what affects one will undoubtedly affect the other. There was certainly some trial and error(1), but in the end, I’ve seen exercise improve my life in some amazing ways.
Waking Up Earlier & Sleeping Better
I’ve never been the kind of person to still be in bed at noon, but I definitely used to appreciate sleeping in until 9 or 10 on weekends (and weekdays if possible). Since graduating and landing in the workforce, it has always been hard to wake up in the morning, no matter how early or late it is. The first question on my mind each morning was always, “WHERE IS MY COFFEE?” I needed caffeine for class or work or even just socializing. So sad…
A couple of years ago, I began to make exercise into a routine rather than something I only did if I had the urge. Once I did this, I noticed some big changes. The biggest was waking up earlier.
7:30 a.m.? Piece of cake!
7:00 a.m. I can do that!
6:30 a.m. I’ll find a way to get my butt out of bed!
I slowly began waking up earlier, and now I wake up at 6:30 on workout days, and even if I don’t exercise, I try to be awake by 7:00. The best part is, I can easily survive for a few hours without coffee!
How do you do it?
It’s all about routine. Exercising in the morning will make you exhausted by the time 21:00 or 22:00 rolls around, I promise. Then, waking up early gets ingrained(2) in your thought process. Adding exercise to the morning schedule is tough at first, but it could be the key to starting your day earlier, and since work isn’t the first thing on your mind when you wake up, caffeine won’t seem so important.
Quick tip: Pack your gym stuff the night before. That way when you wake up, the idea of a packed bag won’t be something to avoid but instead a reason to wake up.
Eating a Big Breakfast
Growing up, I thought eating breakfast was a waste of time. Sure, sometimes I would grab an apple or heat up a bagel before I ran out the door, but I didn’t care if I skipped breakfast. Even as an adult, I would usually only eat breakfast on days when I didn’t have to work in the morning. However, when you work out right after getting up, this habit will definitely change.
It’s always good to eat something small before starting your workout. But even if you skip that–which I sometimes do–you will be VERY hungry after your workout. Eating a big breakfast and regaining those carbs(3) and proteins will be a top-priority demand from your body.
Breakfast is important. It gives you a boost of energy to start off the day, and it’s the best time to eat carbs and other less healthy foods since your body can break them down throughout the rest of the day. Exercise will turn you into a breakfast fiend!
Getting Things Done
Productivity is on everybody’s mind in the 21st century. Eking(4) out minutes of reading a self-help book on the train? Trying to meditate before going to sleep? Spending time on your new business plan on your lunch break or flipping through new hobbies to improve self-esteem?
Exercise at your service! I love starting the day with exercise: even before I go to work or lazily waste a weekend morning, still, I know I’ve gotten something done! I try to finish two or three personal goals every day. Exercise is one of those goals, and by doing it first thing in the morning, I give myself the strength to push through the day and feel motivated to finish my other goal(s).
Rolling out of bed late and leaving work exhausted is a nightmare! Even if you exercise at night, no problem, but try to use your morning to finish something you care about. Working out or getting some cardio in is a good option since you can do it without having to think too much so early in the morning. I run at night, due to no track being near my house, and those are the most challenging days of work to survive since I might have to do everything during my lunch break and after work! Try to use your morning to de-stress and do something you love!
Taking More Naps
Naps are awesome, plus they assist in muscle recovery! More exercise means you should be napping more! This one depresses me a little, though; since I have started working full time again, I have taken almost no naps and this strains my productivity both in the office and outside of work.
If you exercise in the morning, you will likely hit a wall in the afternoon or evening. Don’t fret!(5) This is pretty normal; a short nap can help you recover and acquire that much needed second wind(6). If any of you have suggestions on how to integrate naps into a full-time schedule, I would LOVE to hear them. It’s been on my mind a lot lately. A nap a day will keep burnout away.
Gaining More Confidence
This is an intangible(7) benefit. No, being an ape and staring at your biceps all day in the mirror or walking around trying to show off your new gym bod isn’t confidence–it’s arrogance. Don’t do that, please.
On the other hand, there are a few ways exercise will genuinely help build your confidence.
Posture. If you have bad posture(8) or your back hurts, exercising is a natural way to correct that. I am tall, and I used to walk around like Gollum stumbling up Mount Doom (Lord of the Rings), but when my friend pointed it out, I knew I needed to fix it. Exercise helps me maintain good posture naturally—which also makes me seem taller…so double win.
Energy: Exercising is going to give you an energy boost. Eat the right foods, stretch out, sleep well, and then watch your energy levels soar. Seriously, if you aren’t exercising and you start now, you will see what I mean. If I take a few days off from working out, I start to feel sluggish and slow.
Body: Okay, we established that showing off is bad; however, you will start seeing gains(9) if you are working out correctly. Maybe you’re losing weight or gaining muscle mass. Whatever your goal, your body will eventually begin to change before your eyes.
Going to the beach won’t be a terrifying ordeal. You will feel better mentally, and you will begin to see the body you have always wanted. Just don’t expect it to happen overnight. Changing your body takes time, and you need to be kind to yourself while waiting for change and stick to the process. I’m not even close to being the Hulk, but I now understand how to work each muscle group and some of the science behind exercising. As a result, I’ve gained a few kilograms of muscle mass.
1. trial and error (n.)
Def. experimentation or investigation in which various methods or means are tried and faulty ones eliminated in order to find the correct solution or to achieve the desired result or effect
Ex. Science is all about trial and error. If the experiment fails, record the results and try something different.
2. ingrain (v.)
Def. to implant or fix deeply and firmly in one’s mind
Ex. If you study every day, it will eventually be ingrained in your mind.
3. carbs (carbohydrates) (n.)
Def. any of a large group of organic compounds occurring in foods and living tissues, including sugars, starch, and cellulose
Ex. Bread tastes delicious, but it has a lot of carbs.
4. eke out (phr.)
Def. make an amount or supply of something last longer by using or consuming it frugally
Ex. I’m gonna try to eke out a little more study time before going to sleep.
5. fret (v.)
Def. be constantly or visibly anxious
Ex. My mom is always fretting about the girls I date and she hates their tattoos.
6. second wind (n.)
Def. a new strength or energy to continue something that is an effort
Ex. Wow, I’m so tired after eating a big lunch. I could really use a second wind.
7. intangible (adj.)
Def. unable to be touched; not having a physical presence
Ex. Captain America’s role in The Avengers is more intangible than the other superheroes, who all have incredible powers.
8. posture (n.)
Def. the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting
Ex. You have bad posture, always slouching in your chair and walking with your back hunched over.
9. gains (n.)
Def. an increase in stamina, strength and plain weight training awesomeness
Ex. I have been seeing massive gains since I started doing deadlifts.