Like many people, the last thing I want to do is exercise after a long day of work. (Because who wouldn’t rather relax?) But over the past few years, I’ve taught myself how to get my buns out of bed early and start my day at the gym. Getting in the habit of following a daily activity routine is definitely not an easy thing to do, but I’ve gotten better at it over time. For the past two years, I’ve gotten up at 5 a.m. every day to enjoy interval training boot camps and occasionally slip in a bike ride to work.
That being said, I’ve been struggling due to Safer at Home directives and my life is starting to resemble that of my dog — scrounging around the house for food, taking naps and well … you get the picture. My body is achy and I’m tired. I feel my spirit has tanked and I’ve gotten really good at “relaxation.” But after two weeks of wondering why I felt so sore and tired, it hit me: you rest, you rust!
So, if you’re feeling a bit “rusty” during these crazy times, it’s time to get back into your daily activity routine. You don’t need to break your back at the gym to see positive results. For me, it was always to go big or go home. However, I’m finding just as much enjoyment from small consistent motion. I’ve been enjoying 15 or 30-minute walks with my pooch, twice a day. Occasionally, I’ll even spice it up with a handful of sit-ups, push-ups, light stretching and a jog.
And I’m noticing some great benefits now that I’ve started up a daily activity routine again. Check it out:
1. My cravings for sugar have decreased
The brain releases dopamine, the “reward chemical” in response to any form of pleasure (including exercise, sex, drugs, alcohol or food). For me specifically, food such as cookies, candy and cakes are my weakness. But by exercising daily, my brain rewards me with a rush of dopamine for good, instead of evil. That means when I exercise, I can go more than a day or two without thinking about a sweet treat.
Exercise can also lower your blood sugar level and help your insulin work better. This can decrease your risk for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. And If you already have one of these diseases, exercise can help you manage it a little better.
2. My lower back and legs aren’t so stiff and sore
Limiting your movements can actually weaken your muscles, compound joint trouble, and affect your posture, setting off a chain reaction of further problems. While pain relievers, and cold or hot packs may offer quick relief, fixes like these are temporary and can lead to other health issues. For me, my daily dose of Ibuprofen was making it worse. Not only was I still sore, I was starting to experience stomach issues.
But adding in the right set of exercises to your daily activity routine can have a long-lasting impact on relieving ankle, knee, hip, back or shoulder pain. And if practiced regularly, joint pain relief workouts might permit you to postpone — or even avoid — surgery on a problem joint that has been worsening for years. By strengthening key supportive muscles and restoring flexibility, my back and leg pain is becoming manageable without the use of medications and quick fixes.
3. I have mental clarity during the day
Exercise stimulates your body to release proteins and other chemicals that improve the structure and function of your brain. Studies suggest that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein in the body believed to help with decision making and higher thinking. Regular physical activity boosts memory and the ability to learn new things. Getting sweaty increases production of cells in the hippocampus responsible for memory and learning. In short, exercising daily improves your mental clarity!
4. I’m not a big jerk
Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier, more relaxed and less anxious. By getting back to my daily activity routine, I’ve noticed an improvement in my mood and can actually relax the right way with a deeper, less interrupted sleep.
I could keep going, but let’s just say there are many more reasons to keep moving! It may be hard to get motivated, but with the right mindset you can do anything. Find something you enjoy, be consistent and if you’re under a doctor’s care, seek guidance.
How will you continue to move?