For years I thought the sole purpose of working out was simply to burn calories and shape my thighs. My body was simply a machine, and to be honest, I didn’t respect it the way I do now!
But exercise is not about aesthetics. So why workout? I could list hundreds of reasons, but here are my favourites:
It makes you feel good! All those endorphins boost your mood and are even helpful in treating depression
If gives you loads of energy to enjoy other areas of your life. I love to travel and being fit allows me to explore new areas by bike, or on foot.
It boosts your brainpower. Exercise can help you think flexibly and become a creative problem solver.
It helps you excel at school and work. Regular exercise releases brain chemicals key for memory, concentration, and mental sharpness.
It helps you appreciate how amazing your body is. I used to loathe my thighs for not being a certain shape, but now I love them for everything they let me do! I can run up the stairs, lift a heavy box, practice fun yoga poses, and do activities with my friends. Plus thigh gaps were so 2015.
I think exercise should be fun AND functional, which is something I always emphasise with my clients. It should rejuvenate your body, not exhaust or deplete it. The good news is you can enjoy these same euphoric feelings with my top 5 favourite feel good workouts:
Pilates combines breath with movement so is a fantastic mind-body exercise. Regular practice improves core strength, and helps reduce lower back pain. However, the biggest benefit of all is better posture, so you can stand tall and walk with confidence.
Strength training is just as effective as cardio for treating symptoms of depression and anxiety, but comes with the added bonus of increasing your muscle mass, which boosts your metabolic rate, improves your bone mineral density and generally makes you feel like the strong badass you are!
Yoga or Tai Chi
For me, these practices feel like moving meditation. My brain gets a chance to relax, and all I have to do is breathe and let my body flow through the motions of the class. Both Yoga and Tai Chi are great for stress reduction because they help activate the parasympathetic nervous system otherwise known as the ‘rest and digest’ part of your nervous system. Just make sure you stick around until the end for savasana where you get to lie down and chill out – that’s the best part!
A walk outdoors is a great way to start or end the day! 20 – 30 minutes is all you need to improve your cardiovascular fitness as well as boost your mood. If you can, try to walk in a park or by the beach, as research shows nature is extremely calming.
Group classes or one-on-one training sessions
Working out with friends or with an exercise professional is just more fun and also keeps you accountable. You’ll reap the physical benefits of exercise, and the social aspect is great for your mental health too.