There are lots of reasons people exercise. People exercise to sweat and feel good about their bodies, to reduce guilt for eating certain foods, to boost energy, to tone the body, to lose weight, etc. Exercise has proven effective in combating disease, increasing physical condition, treating depression, reducing stress, positively affecting mood swings, and increasing personal engagement between self and others. Specifically, exercise releases endorphins which are neuro-receptors that reduce pain, enhance the immune system, and delay aging. Depending on the person, endorphins are released throughout the body as soon as minutes into exercise, while others feel the “runner’s high” after 30 minutes of exercise.
If you don’t exercise or spent the weekend on the couch, have no fear. There are other ways to release endorphins including massage therapy, acupuncture, meditation, breathing deeply, and eating spicy food. My mom hauls wood as her exercise. My best advice here is to find something that you enjoy, because if you don’t enjoy it you aren’t as likely to make it part of a regular routine, but more importantly…life is too short to “make” yourself exercise, do something you enjoy so you can actually enjoy your time and your day (Crazy ideas, right?). If running hurts, don’t run. If you get bored at the gym try the Barre method, TRX, yoga, pilates, etc.
Let’s not forget exercise also burns calories. Does it sound like enough reasons to get off the couch and exercise? According to Dr. Lustig (remember him from this post?) UCSF Professor who gave the famous speech entitled The Bitter Truth, there are biochemical reasons to exercise. In his opinion, it is impossible to effectively lose weight by exercising enough to burn off the extra calories of food. According to Lustig, relying on exercise to burn off the treats you eat or alcohol you drink is unrealistic and going to fail. I do it too, I’ll run Lyon Street Stairs and then go to Tartine…The reason exercise is beneficial for weight loss is because it improves insulin sensitivity, reduces stress and therefore appetite, and increases the TCA cycle. Inherently, your body is better able to detoxify fructose if you exercise because less fat is created in the liver.
The reasons to exercise (or not to) are totally up to you. If I’ve inspired you to get out the weights and get your sweat on, join myself and Tricia for a circuit with the at home video below: