Exercise is good for you.
Without a shadow of a doubt.
I know I know… You’ve heard it all before. But it really does has no negative consequences, and will improve your life ten fold if done right. Have you ever heard someone say, “Wow, I really regret that work out”, or “I wish I didn’t start exercising” ?
Only some of the health benefits include:
I’d be a liar if I told you that I exercised purely for the benefit of my health. Not only does exercise make you lose weight, tone and gain muscle, it also improves your skin, posture, produces collagen, and generally makes you appear healthier physically.
If only there was a magic way to get into shape without all the effort, huh? Because exercising can be a lot of effort. There’s no short cut, there’s no magic spell. Just hard work, motivation and determination.
While I was at university, when I was going through a hard period in my life, I used exercise as a way to escape all of my stresses. I can’t say it made all of my stresses disappear, but it was a lot better than drinking my sorrows away at a bar. Also, the rush of endorphins I got after a work out improved my mental health for the rest of the day, and wore me out ready to sleep well in the evening.
Eventually, I completed university and my dad died. I was having a lot of therapy at this time too, and gradually something in my brain adjusted. I let go of a lot of negativity and became a lot more chilled out. Watching my dad die so young enforced in me the importance of living for the moment and being as happy as possible. Unfortunately, this meant I gradually stopped exercising all together, eating food I had kept from myself for so long, and ending my sober stint.
Although I didn’t put on a huge amount of weight, I was very aware of my lack of fitness and loss of muscle definition. I also had developed a sleeping problem and found my mental health dipping. After a year of not having one solid base, I finally moved into a flat, and finally re joined a gym.
It only took one proper session to get straight back on the saddle. I came out feeling that incredible high of endorphins and wondered how I’d gone so long without it.
But I can not lie to you… When I am exercising, I am not enjoying myself.
Quite often, a little demon pops into my head, saying
“WHY on Earth are you choosing to do this to yourself?”
“You are literally paying to be in pain.”
“This won’t be over in five minutes. You have to do this for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.”
“You’re in pain, dripping wet, and you’re still not a Victoria Secret Model.”
I ignore it, and keep going. I like to push myself until I am wet with sweat and my legs feel like they can’t move any longer. But that’s just me. Once you get to the stage, the rush of endorphins kick in, and the little demon gets blown away.
^WHY ARE YOU SMILING?
I think we should be more honest about exercise.
Feminism in our times and place still has a long way to go. There are subconscious pressures and judgements in all areas of our lives, without the added pressures of trying to exercise and not feel awful about it.
“Fitspo” accounts on Instagram boast incredible bodies without showing all the effort these people went through to obtain it. Not to mention the good camera angles, lighting, editing and poses used to create a perceived perfect body. This, along with news of celebrities, athletes and models, looking amazing down to a so called simple work out regime, only makes us feel awful about ourselves. Don’t forget, there is a lot that these people don’t allow us to see. Nothing annoys me more than when someone claims they love exercise and find it easy. A lot of us, including me, do not. Constantly being fed images of happy, carefree exercise is undermining, patronising and intimidating.
^Yep, because the difference has nothing at all to do with the angle, knickers, lighting or pose… Sure.
I am also well aware that the majority of people have actual grown up lives and don’t have the luxury of time to exercise. I am a bit spoilt in this sense, but, I do believe everyone should make time where your health is concerned. It could be as little as walking instead of driving or using public transport. Even walking up the escalator instead of gliding up in the air on the right hand side is an excellent way to exercise.
Thankfully, it seems some companies have got my back on this subject.
Nike’s “Better For It” campaign (2014) proves that even the biggest sport and fitness companies are turning their backs on unrealistic advertising.
Finally! A multi million dollar company is branching out to a wider range of people, and at least begging to recognise the problem with false advertising. This is a powerful and inspiring ad, and definitely made me feel better knowing that other women have a little demon too.
While waiting for my tube the other day, I noticed this poster:
“This Girl Can is a national campaign developed by Sport England and a wide range of partnership organisations. It’s a celebration of active women up and down the country who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets.”
I would urge everyone to visit http://www.thisgirlcan.co.uk for more information on the campaign. I am so happy that this has been created, and that we women can inspire and encourage each other without discrimination or pre possessed ideals.
There are many ways to exercise. You do not have to lock yourself in a gym for hours on end. Personally, I love going to classes because there is someone to guide you through it and the group atmosphere really helps with motivation. And at the end of the class, you all feel connected, because you have achieved something great together.
So let’s stop being so hard on ourselves when it comes to exercise. Health is paramount at the end of each day. In order to love yourself you must look after yourself.
Your body is your home – don’t burn it down.
PS. I hightly recommend:
LDN Muscle for everything health and fitness, especially their range of fitness guides for men and women of every fitness level.
Virgin Active for an all round amazing gyms across the UK with an excellent range of classes.