Feel Better by Exercising
Here’s a different thought. Forget about exercising to lose weight. Forget about exercising to reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Exercise to simply feel better. That’s what this article suggests, and there is something to the mindset of exercising for the primary purpose to feel better.
There are many reasons to exercise – and any reason is good. But, for exercise to be sustained over the long-term the reason must be strong enough to keep someone motivated. It seems that exercising to improve health is not a strong enough long-term motivator for many.
Reasons to Exercise
- To increase energy
- To improve appearance
- To lose weight
- To improve health/disease management
- To improve fitness
- To improve muscle tone and strength
- Competitive purposes
- To meet people/socialize
- To feel better/ improve sense of well-being
All of these are good reasons and these reasons overlap to some degree.
Why Health Benefits May Not be a Great Motivator
Many start to exercise to lose weight, but when they don’t see the results they were expecting they quit exercising robbing themselves of the other benefits of exercise. As the article mentions, exercisers may not notice that their blood pressure is improving, that their cholesterol is lower, or that their bones are getting stronger – as there is no way for them to know without some type of evaluation. But, they can tell if they feel better – if they are more energized.
Exercising to lose weight may be the worst reason to exercise because one does not burn as many calories as he thinks. A big part of this (burning few calories) has to do with the way people exercise. Many exercise beginners limit themselves to aerobics, but doing aerobics is not the great calorie burner many think it is. More calories can be burned with strength or resistance training, or with high intensity interval training which can be thought of as super-aerobics.
You only burn 0.65 calories per pound per mile of running for instance. So if you weigh 150 pounds and run 2 miles you burn 195 calories (0.65 x 150 pounds x 2 miles), or 5.5% of one pound. Even if you run a marathon (26.2 miles) you only burn 2,554 calories or 73% of one pound (if you weigh 150 pounds). Many would find it easier to fast for a day to get the same calorie reduction comparable to running a marathon. Better calorie burning is achieved with strength training and interval training.
Now aerobics does help with weight loss. But, the reason aerobics helps with weight loss has more to do with the fact that it improves insulin sensitivity (insulin makes us fat) than its calorie burning effects.
So if you’ve tried to exercise and cannot stay with it long, review your reasons for exercising. If you have been exercising for health benefits consider a change in philosophy and start to exercise to simply feel better. Also, exercising outdoors appears to provide better mental health benefits than working out in a gym according to this study.
So maybe it’s wiser to simply exercise to feel better – to feel energized, to boost your mood, and provide you with a sense of accomplishment.
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