• Jessica Joan

Enjoyment in Exercise

If you would have told me ten years ago that I get up early to do a workout before I go to work, I’d have laughed in your face! Growing up as a teenager, I saw exercise as a chore. I saw exercise as the thing I had to do to be thin. I saw exercise as difficult, painful and not enjoyable in the slightest. It was something that I just had to do if I wanted to be thin and attractive.

Fast forward ten years and my perception of exercise is completely different. I see exercise as a way to keep my body healthy. I see exercise as a way to support my mental health. I see exercise as a way to release pent up steam. I see exercise as a part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle and I really enjoy it!

The journey from believing I had to do exercise to be thin to now enjoying it as part of a healthy lifestyle has been a long one! It’s only in the last couple of years that I have appreciated how much exercise affects my physical and mental health.

I started off slowly, following Joe Wicks’ beginner workouts on his YouTube channel, ‘The Body Coach’. It took a lot of motivation to get my ass up at half five in the morning to do a workout and I will admit there were a lot of times when I thought “fuck it” and went back to sleep for half an hour. But the more I started to exercise, the more I started to appreciate the effect it has on my body. After an early morning workout, I feel positive, energised and ready to take on the day with a spring in my step; I wanted to feel like this every day! Since then, I have started doing more strenuous workouts as my ability progresses, as well as starting yoga and kickboxing to add variety.

Exercise releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins promote feelings of positivity and pleasure in the body and are known to be natural pain relievers. Therefore, this has helped alleviate depression and anxiety that I used to suffer with and I am now off anti-depressants (the first time in about ten years!) Exercise has boosted my confidence and self-esteem as I am slowly losing weight alongside a balanced diet and I am feeling optimistic about my healthier lifestyle. I am now sleeping better than ever before and have lots of energy to keep me going throughout the day.

Exercise doesn’t have to be hardcore cardio or strenuous muscle building, it can be a long walk, yoga, sex or even house work! Anything that gets your body moving and your heart beat pumping will get those happy hormones flooding into your bloodstream.

It is recommended we do about thirty minutes of exercise a day. One way of ensuring you do this is by planning it into your day. Get a diary or set a reminder in your phone to complete your exercise; you can plan to do the full thirty minutes in one go or spread it out across the day, doing ten minutes here and there when you can.

One thing I have learnt during this time is to listen to your body; if there’s a day where you’ve planned to do a spin class but you’re seriously struggling to muster up the motivation to do it, think about what you can do instead. Use that time to do another form of less strenuous exercise that will make you and your body happy.

Now, more than ever, it is so important for us to look after our bodies and appreciate everything it does for us. The least we can do is give it what it needs to be able to function properly, and part of that is to exercise regularly. It’s so easy right now for us to sit on our arse all day and binge watch Netflix; yes it will make you feel good for a short period of time but in the long run it’s going to do nothing to improve your health and wellbeing.

So ask yourself, when this is all over, will you feel happy and proud that you’ve done everything you can to look after yourself during this time? Or will you come out of this feeling depressed and guilty that you’ve wasted your time and this opportunity to create healthy habits for a happier lifestyle?

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