Before I joined Weight Watchers in 2009, I was the poster child for a sedentary lifestyle. I would sit for 8 hours a day at work and then come home and sit on the couch for another 3-5 hours. The only time I would get off the couch was for food and to use the restroom.
When I first joined WW, I was not active at all. I was too embarrassed to be seen working out in public, and frankly I was just too tired to care. It was hard enough just to get through the day. The last thing I wanted to do was expend more energy working out! Initially all I did was focus on the food. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but at some point I started having more energy because I started looking for ways to be more active.
I progressed over time from playing fitness video games to walking to jogging to trying classes at the gym like step aerobics and kickboxing. The best I ever felt about myself was when I was working out on a regular basis, but sometimes it is hard to stay motivated to do it. There are at least five reasons we should be more active, even if we don’t feel like it!
1. It can help you lose weight and maintain your weight loss.
As you know, weight loss was my motivation to become more active. I suspect this is true for many other people as well. If you want to lose weight, it helps to burn more calories! I am very diligent with tracking my food, but it works best when I control my diet AND add in some exercise. According to the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), physical activity is one of the most important elements of successful weight management. The NWCR reports that 94% of registry participants increased their physical activity. I figure that 94% of successful losers and maintainers can’t be wrong!
2. It helps you relax and feel happier.
It sounds counterintuitive to exert yourself with exercise in order to relax. To some, relaxing means crashing on the couch and zoning out. The truth is that zoning out is just an avoidance tactic most of the time. If you need an emotional boost or need to blow off steam from a stressful day, exercise will help! Physical activity stimulates brain chemicals that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. Studies show that exercise even helps fight or lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression.
3. It improves your health.
We all want to live long, happy lives, right? Being healthy plays a big part in that, but we often forget that being active has so many health benefits. Most of us think that being active is only for those people who want to lose weight, but that’s not true! When you are not physically active, you are more likely to have or develop heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and depression. You even increase your risk for having a stroke or heart attack or developing cancer! Exercise can also help prevent brain degeneration!
4. It improves your body image dramatically.
Exercising regularly can help you feel better about yourself, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem. I know this is true for me. Logically I know that my body shape doesn’t change after just one week of regular exercise. However, when I’m consistent in my workouts, I FEEL like I look better and I like my body more. The best I have ever felt about my body image was back when I was going to the gym several times a week. I was even heavier then than I am now, but I still felt more confident.
5. It gives you more energy and improves your sleep.
Have you ever noticed that the more you sit around, the more sluggish you feel? It’s true! It’s hard to get yourself motivated to move when you are feeling sluggish, but once you start moving it’s easier to keep going! Regular physical activity can also help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Getting proper rest contributes to giving you more energy which will then make it easier to continue being active!
The bottom line is that being more active helps you feel better! Isn’t that what all of us ultimately want? When I start slacking on my exercise, I try to remember that I like the way I feel when I’m done. I may not always love it during my workout, but I do love the results.
Do you want to lose weight?
Do you want to reduce your stress?
Do you want to reduce your risk for disease?
Do you want to gain more confidence and improve your body image?
Do you want to have more energy and sleep better?
If you answered yes to ANY of these questions, it’s time to get moving! If you didn’t answer yes to any of these questions, try reading the benefits again and see if you change your mind. What’s your favorite way to be more active? Share it in the comments below! Check out the other posts in my Habits of a Loser series!
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Here are some of the articles I read while researching. If you want more information, here are a few places to start:
Choose My Plate ~ Physical Activity
Mayo Clinic ~ Fitness
Greatist ~ Benefits of Exercise