By Sra Oellana
When was the last time you asked yourself why you work out? Or, if you aren’t currently working out, when was the last time you thought about the benefits of working out? My guess is, you associate movement and working out with weight loss and physique changes.
For years, I worked out because I wanted to lose weight. As I got older, I started working out to build more muscle. I knew that once I turned 40 increasing my muscle mass would be more difficult. I wanted to age well. Especially after my third stent in physical therapy.
When I was 14, I injured my right ankle and it never healed correctly. I have reinjured that ankle, and somewhere in there added injuries to my left ankle. Over the past 30 years I have been to physical therapy three times in an effort to repair the damage. The problem is, I never stuck with my exercises. As soon as I would get better, I’d stop.
I didn’t understand the value of my health and had no idea that I needed to continue to exercise my ankles to keep them strong enough to prevent injuries.
Because I associated working out with weight loss and physical changes, I had no true understanding of health and what it means to be healthy.
Over the past 14 years, I have worked out consistently. I started with an exercise bike and slowly worked my way to at home workouts. Different jobs and seasons of my life stopped my workouts from time to time, but I never felt well during these periods. I didn’t sleep well, overate, and had no focus. It wasn’t until my ankle started locking up, that I realized I needed movement back in my life.
Getting back to workouts was really hard. I started slowly and worked my way into gym workouts. Now I religiously spend at least an hour a day in the gym. But something has shifted: I no longer workout to lose weight; I work out because of how it makes me feel. I love the clarity and focus I receive because I devote my time to improving myself. I am addicted to the different perspectives I gain while I sweat things out in the gym. I love that I am physically exhausted at night. I still push myself, changing exercises and increasing my weights, but I do it to challenge myself, to keep myself interested.
Increasing movement has been linked to positive mindsets, increased energy, and the ability to solve problems and challenges more quickly. Adding movement to your day has also been shown to lower your chances of developing chronic diseases. And the best part? Any movement counts. Simply adding a five minute walk up and down your driveway, or if you are in an office with stairs, climb the stairs every afternoon can help have positive lasting effects.
No matter how you add movement to your day, add five minutes each day. And when you have built this habit, increase it to 10 minutes. I promise you will love the results.
Sara Orellana, MS, MPH is a community volunteer, entrepreneur, author, amateur chef, and advocate for rescued animals. She may be reached by email at email@example.com.