For many, working out is a temporary means to weight loss for some life event- a wedding, vacation, reunion, etc.- where the goal is to impress in that dress, bathing suit, or for the countless photos that will be taken and posted for all to see. Usually this motivation does not turn into a healthy habit of physical activity and all the momentum is lost once the goal is reached. But what if it did become a lifestyle instead of a fleeting hobby? The many benefits of incorporating working out into your routine far outweigh the temporary satisfaction of looking good for that one event or summer season. Here are 5 reasons to keep that summer fitness frenzy going year round:
Reason 1: Your body will thank you
You look good and are feeling great- confident, tanned, and toned from a wealth of summer activities. Then the days get shorter and colder and cuddling up on the couch sounds way more appealing than schlepping across town for spin class. Before you know it, you are pale, bloated, and have a nice squishy layer where those bronzed abs use to be. Stop. Rewind. What if that confidence and strength you felt in your new skin is what motivated you to keep going, to press on and continue to show your body love? It may not seem like a significant struggle at the moment, but when the couch wins time and time again, it is when nurturing your body and overall health takes a back seat. Not only does exercise keep body weight in check, it also has many other impactful health benefits, from improving your sex life to boosting your energy to preventing serious health conditions and more. According to MayoClinic, being active increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (which are good) and decreases triglycerides (which are bad) which greatly reduces your risk of cardiovascular diseases. You might not see the immediate results of your efforts, but you will see it in your health over time.
Reason 2: Maintaining is easier than starting over
Have you ever taken a long hiatus from working out and then made the mistake of starting back up where you left off? Getting out of bed the next day feels like a workout in itself. Starting back at it too aggressively can leave you feeling sore, discouraged, and unlikely to go on. Plus, the older you get, the harder it is to “bounce” back after taking time off from working out. The better option would be to maintain a steady fitness level year round. Think of it as running a marathon instead of a sprint- instead of a burst of workout mania one season a year, keep a steady fitness plan going year round. This doesn’t mean that you always have to be working out at the same level, it is good to switch up the intensity from time to time, but instead of starting and stopping cold turkey, you incorporate it throughout the year. This can be as simple as brisk walks during your lunch break or squeezing in a 20 minute ab routine while watching TV at night. Since the holiday season is always very busy, getting creative by squeezing in mini-workouts here and there makes it more sustainable.
Reason 3: Stress? what stress?
With all that is going on in the world today, we may be more stressed than ever. Operating with high levels of stress in our daily life can take a serious toll on health. The good news is that physical exercise can help. Studies show that working out is the quickest way to clear cortisol, the stress hormone, from your system and increase endorphins. Endorphins are the magical neurotransmitters that block pain and bring about feelings of euphoria and happiness. This is similar to how morphine reacts in the body. Crazy , right?! In addition to a natural high, working out can help clear your mind by giving you the space to breathe and be present in what your body is doing. Yoga anyone?
Reason 4: Your family will thank you
Like mentioned above, physical activity increases endorphins and endorphins make you happy. Happy wife equals happy life, am I right?? But in all seriousness when we, as women, are taking care of ourselves we can be a better partner, wife, mother, sister, and friend. We tend to spend a lot of time giving of ourselves to those around us and it is essential that we learn to take care of ourselves as well. That hour (or 30 minutes, or 15 minutes, or whatever you can get) spent doing something that benefits you and your health is priceless. Plus, we are modeling good habits for our families and children. With that being said, find something that you truly enjoy doing. Don’t become a runner if you hate running. Then you will dread that hour for yourself. Do something that gets you excited to move and then you can go back to your family refreshed.
Reason 5: Confidence for days (and months, and years)
The main motivation for working out for many women is that they want to see a lower number on the scale or at least be able to fit into the same jeans they wore in college or pre-pregnancy. This is not a bad motivation, but studies show that working out solely for weight loss doesn’t usually create a lifelong habit. Once said goal is reached or the results don’t come as quick as you would like, the fitness bandwagon is usually abandoned. Instead, when you treat exercise as a way to build on who you are it becomes an empowering entity that you never want to give up. To be able to appreciate all our bodies can do as the boundaries are pushed and muscles are strengthened is powerful and pretty badass. So instead of striving endlessly to be skinny, let’s focus on how confident we feel every time we lift weights a little heavier than the last time.
What motivates you to keep up your fitness routine?