by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
Need motivation to squeeze in today’s workout? Put aside long-term gains. Focus on exercise’s immediate perks…
Many fitness benefits arrive gradually, especially improved health issues or desired weight loss. There are weeks, even months, when numbers seems stalled. Blood levels, body fat measurements, or the scale may not seem to budge. Stay dedicated, and you will reach these goals. They are your reward for long-term commitment. In the meantime, focus on the here and now. The everyday fitness rewards carry us along.
T’is the Season
It may not be swimsuit season, but your workout is needed just as much. Cold temperatures, cabin fever, and limited daylight. Enough said! Public opinion states January and February as the most depressing months of the year. Sure, winter Olympians may feel differently, but most of us are not diving into the snow and ice — at least with joy.
An invigorating rush of endorphins is your prescription to a happier, more energetic day. These feel-good neurotransmitters are released at the onset of exercise. You don’t need to wait for the millionth rep for them to kick in. You don’t need to accumulate them over a three-week period. Take 20 minutes right now and let the good mood begin!
Approximately 14 percent of the population uses exercise to reduce stress, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Unlike those stubborn pounds, tension can melt off your body in one sweat session. Increased blood circulation, pumped up with those endorphins, is mainly responsible. Physically exhausting yourself in a positive way also provides relief.
Exercise helps quiet stressful or obsessive thoughts by distraction. Workout mindfully for a true mental break. Perhaps try a new Group Fitness class or unfamiliar exercise equipment. You will be forced to focus on fitness tasks, not that annoying coworker or overwhelming project.
Do not discount the social aspect of fitness. Regardless of your workout buddy’s whereabouts, if you even have a workout buddy, being at the Center surrounds you with likeminded people. Now is a great time to be a Center member, when exercise and opportunities to visit with friends and family can be limited by freezing temperatures.
Sure, there are outdoor winter sports, like skating and skiing, which invigorate and energize. We can take a brisk walk, even if it is in snow boots. However, the Center is always alive with inspiration, prompting us to try a new class or build our body better. Once inside, the warmth of the people and the zest of a great workout deliver a powerful remedy against cabin fever.
Everybody needs a mood-booster about now. Relentless snow even may have caused one too many snow days for the kids. Maybe. And definitely for the adults, all of whom are about one mitten too short at this point. You’ve earned a happy dose of exercise.
About Those Extra Pounds
It is impossible and unhealthy to drop weight during one exercise session. In other words, you realize those skinny jeans aren’t suddenly going to fit tonight. There isn’t any instant motivation to be had here, especially because the couch feels so comfy this very minute. But, a workout can set the pace immediately for a thinner you. You’re one step closer to your weight loss goals by prepping your body. A single workout can improve strength and metabolism, both factors in obtaining healthy weight.
A high-intensity workout increases human growth hormone (HGH) secretion. This stimulates the production of lean muscle mass and increases metabolism, also factors in healthy weight management. The HGH helps repair damaged cells and build new ones, which is a health perk in its own right. It delivers an immediate surge of brain power, which clarifies the many reasons for your sweat session.
We inherit our genes, yet we are not victims of them. Research proves fitness helps alter the genetic material in muscle cells. Even a short exercise session can improve muscle performance and boost metabolism. This affects the body’s ability to burn calories when at rest as well as when active.
You cannot change your genetic material. However, through diet and exercise, you absolutely can change how genetic code behaves. With exercise, muscle contractions themselves are believed responsible for this benefit. Intense bursts of energy seem to deliver the most benefit. There’s another case for interval training. Pump up the volume and flex away! You need not inherit your grandpa’s waistline.
If you have a family history of diabetes, one cardio workout immediately reduces your risk of this disease. By increasing the storage of fat in muscles, the body experiences improved insulin sensitivity. This prevents insulin resistance and decreases risk of diabetes. Of course, one session cannot deliver long-term protection but it does produce an instant defense mechanism (you know, to counteract that chocolate weakness).
You’ve done practically nothing, yet you are tired. Energy is zapped all day as we face tasks, work at the computer, and solve our own world’s issues. Even days with minimal physical activity, sometimes especially those days, can be exhausting. Combine this with temperatures worthy of hibernation, and a workout may seem impossible. It surely would not seem like a remedy. But, it is!
A quick workout boosts energy. Know that, and get moving. It may feel like the last thing you want to do, but within 15 minutes you will prove your feelings wrong. Drastic changes occur to the cardiovascular system as soon as your brain realizes you are about to workout. These changes release a shot of adrenalin.
From start until immediately after exercise, functions like blood flow and cardiac output increase. You feel more awake and alive than you did in front of the computer screen, despite tiring your muscles. Healthy physical stress is exhilarating! Tackle the rest of your day or enjoy a more vivid night. The best remedy for fatigue is often a burst of movement.
Keep winter doldrums away. Incorporate intervals of physical activity and exercise throughout your day and night. As sleep begets sleep, so activity begets activity. Set yourself in motion.
Most people enjoy a boost to self-confidence as a secondary perk to exercising. The focus may be on preventing osteoporosis, lowering blood pressure, or losing weight. Those results take time to notice. After an empowering workout, self-image reflects a person shining from the inside out.
By accomplishing greater heights, perhaps previously thought impossible, you begin to feel more worthy. Time and energy are more willingly dedicated to healthy pursuits. The outcome is an improved inner and outer appearance, before you even can drop a size or sculpt a bicep.
A fitness community adds its own boost to self-esteem. Humans thrive in a supportive environment. Quickly, we start to feel like an essential member of a team. A stray compliment, being recognized by a familiar face, a friendly hug– we are worthy. We are important.
Quality of the Present
A healthy lifestyle is a definite investment in your future. Good nutrition and consistent exercise help assure better years ahead, and more of them. You’re building a happier, healthier life. Unlike most construction jobs, you do not need to wait for the final unveiling. There aren’t piles of rubbish and material littering the path to a fitter self. Each day of the creation process is made brighter as a reward for your efforts.
“Exercise Alters Your DNA,” at www.huffingtonpost.com.
“Long and Short-Term Health Benefits of Exercise,” by Amanda A Sandvik at www.ezinearticles.com.
“What Happens to Your Body after Just One Workout,” by Sarah Klein at www.huffingtonpost.com.
Introductory photo (exercise ball): www.flickr.com/photos/cumidanciki/5163310087/
DNA helix: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ghutchis/124782978/
Sunny path: www.flickr.com/photos/muha/1103442787/