Many of us consider exercise as a good way to lose weight. While calorie burn and weight loss have deeper health benefits, it is easy to get caught up in their superficial side effects. The benefits of exercise go much farther than simply the calories burned. Exercise positively contributes to a high quality of life. Just to start, it helps keep us young, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and helps promote fresh oxygen to our brains, keeping us clear-headed and energized. We recommend starting your day with a protein-filled Daily Shake to make your work out even more effective.
It is easy to spend the whole day “in our head”, thinking incessantly. The human mind is a beautiful thing, but sometimes it is nice to get out of our heads and into our bodies. When we move our bodies regularly, we generate a stronger mind-body connection. We start moving, notice our breath, generate awareness of the physical body that we live in and sometimes even quiet our mind. This can help us feel more connected and grounded. Health is all-encompassing – mind, body, and spirit. We also recommend a brief meditation practice, as they can complement each other very well.
Bone mass typically declines as we age, which can lead to osteoporosis if we aren’t careful. Weight-bearing exercises, like jumping or lunging, work to build stronger bones by stimulating cells responsible for the synthesis and mineralization of bone. More pressure on muscles means more pressure on bones. This may sound scary, but it is actually a good thing because it encourages the new bone building.
It’s no secret that when we exercise, we typically sweat … or should I say “glow”. This is because our bodies are working to regulate our temperature and keep us cool. While our sweat is decreasing our body temperature, it is also helping in the elimination of toxins. We are bombarded with toxins all day long from the food that we eat, the cleaning products we use, the air we breathe, etc. The liver and kidneys, the body’s primary detox organs, work hard to clear these toxins. Once these organs are exhausted, the body works to eliminate toxins through perspiration. Many studies have shown a number of toxins in human sweat, including mercury, arsenic and even BPA. If you’ve done the Clean Program, you know that regular bowel movements are also critical in proper toxin elimination. Exercise makes bowel movements easier to pass by decreasing the time it takes food to move through the large intestine. It also accelerates your heart rate and breathing, which helps stimulate the natural contraction of intestinal muscles.
Where to even begin – exercise boasts countless benefits for the brain. It can improve executive functioning, or higher level thinking skills, like task switching, attention, and goal management. Suffer from anxiety? Exercise has been shown to help decrease one’s sensitivity to anxiety as well as reduce symptoms of depression. Experience frequent brain fog? In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. Interested in becoming smarter? Exercise can actually help increase your IQ. A big indirect benefit of exercise is its ability to improve sleep, which we know is important for clear thinking and overall quality of life.
The lymphatic system is a network of vessels that runs through the entire body, performing the vital function of cleansing the fluid that surrounds the cells. This not only protects us from toxins but also allows cells to function at their highest. An unhealthy lymphatic system is associated with fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, poor digestion, and possibly even cellulite. Exercise and muscle movement massage the system and promote the flow of fluid through lymph vessels.
DISCIPLINE AND STRENGTH
Moving your body consistently helps cultivate discipline and strength. Exercising, moving, and connecting is a way to show up for yourself, day in and day out. When we commit to something and follow through with that commitment, we gain strength in our minds and our hearts. On a very obvious level, exercise builds muscle strength. Our muscles, as well as our bones, get us from point A to point B. They allow us to play with our kids, walk the dog, unload the groceries and run away from danger. Let’s give them love.
As you can see, exercising goes way beyond the calories burned. Let’s try to reframe how we think about having to “go to the gym”. We are actually practicing some serious self-care.
Written by Hannah Aylward
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