So many of us undervalue the benefits of exercise. We are so wrapped up in the world of body shape, booty and fitness that we fail to see the benefits of exercise outside of muscle building, fat loss and calories.
It really is a shame because exercise, regardless of its form, can have amazing impacts on our focus, clarity, energy, mental health and longevity. We live in a sedentary society where the majority of jobs are located behind a desk, staring at a computer for 8-12 hours every day.
The results of this, of course, include rapidly growing obesity levels but even more so than that (especially with the pandemic). We are entering into times where there are huge problems in terms of our mental health. While evidence of chronic diseases are on an alarmingly steep rise.
"See beyond the fitness influencers"
When we take all of these factors into account, it is essential that we see exercise as a tool beyond simple weight loss and weight gain. It is also paramount that we see beyond the fitness influencers showing how to build your booty, draining yourself of energy with HIIT and the gym chains that make money on your failed memberships.
So before I let you in on the benefits of exercise beyond weight loss; I want to help you re-define exercise. It is very important that we separate exercise into 2 categories. Organized exercise and general movement. Organized movement can be categorized as formal; i.e. going to the gym, planning a strength workout, playing football, training for an event, prepping for competition. General movement, I categorize as movement I get outside of organized movement; i.e. going for walks, hiking, hobbies, the job I have. Both styles of exercise provide different results and it is very important to understand what you are using exercise for.
For example if you are trying to build energy, would you really do a HIIT workout? If you are trying to lose weight would you really focus on simply playing football? Exercise should be purposeful and the following points are going to give you a different perspective on how you can use your exercise to your benefits beyond weight loss and gain:
So here we go.
Exercise of any kind can give you an instant hit of dopamine, serotonin and endorphins
Movement and especially movement in sunlight can give us such a boost. I think we all subconsciously know that exercise makes us feel better but it's not just one of those tall tales; it's scientifically proven. When we move our body starts to release dopamine which is our pleasure hormone. It is the same good feeling we get from getting an answer right n a quiz, getting a like on Facebook or for those single people getting a tinder match.
We also get a hit of serotonin with movement. For those of you who are not aware; serotonin is literally our happiness hormone. People who suffer from depression are literally lacking in serotonin. Exercise is a prescription for these people.
"Training to muscular fatigue is not about doing a HIIT workout"
Strength training can boost your natural testosterone levels
When we strength train and train to a certain level of fatigue our body gets a stimulation of testosterone and growth hormone. Testosterone, for males especially is so important in terms of sex drive, burning fat and building muscle while growth hormone is a key player in muscle and tissue development. Training to muscular fatigue is not about doing a HIIT workout, its not about how you sweat, it is about the amount of controlled pressure you put your body under to stimulate a fight or flight response.
Exercise can increase the telomere length
The length of one's telomeres can directly affect our chromosomes and genes. Athletes and highly trained individuals have significantly longer telomeres than sedentary individuals. This directly affects the way you age. I know that I would prefer to age gracefully rather than rapidly, don't you?
Morning walks can aid in your sleep and circadian rhythm
As we mentioned above, movement can positively affect our mood and happiness. Exercise in the morning can also help us to reset our body clock. During lockdown or times when you have poor sleep or suffer from jetlag, morning movement can help to reset your body clock. You see we work on a circadian rhythm. This is essentially a body clock that signals our sleep and wake cycle. It is hugely influenced by dark and light. By getting up early and walking in the morning sunlight, you will actually be setting yourself up for a good night's sleep.
Isometrics can reduce blood pressure
Many people in the modern day suffer from high blood pressure but what many people do not understand is that a form of training called Isometric training can actually be prescribed by doctors and has proven benefits to dramatically lower blood pressure.
There are numerous other benefits to exercise including; having a purpose, challenging oneself, better cardiovascular health, reduced long term stress and many more. The point, however, of this article is to show you that there are many benefits of exercise outside of just weight loss. If you want to feel better, have more energy and increase focus then you do not need to smash yourself at a crossfit workout or do a 40 minute HIIT class; my personal advice would be to lift a heavy object or go for a fast walk/slow jog.