Monday, July 19, 2010

Instead of excuses NOT to exercise, try these excuses TO exercise...

Aside from the obvious health benefits of regular exercise, there are also some secondary benefits. These 'side effects' of exercise are often overlooked, but just as worthwhile...

In fact, I find that remembering some of the following 'side effects' of exercise helps to motivate me more than just thinking "Well, it's good for my long term health". Perhaps this is because some the 'side effects' of exercise are more immediate and more noticeable than the somewhat ambiguous and intangible long term health benefits of exercise.

As we've seen and heard in previous posts (and no doubt all experienced first hand), we've all got plenty of excuses NOT to exercise. These are my excuses TO exercise:

Exercise Boosts Confidence:

Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers
you cannot be successful or happy.
~Norman Vincent Peale
cc flickr photo from Royal New Zealand Navy

Exercise builds body confidence. Next time you exercise, stop to consider and appreciate just what your body can do!! Marvel at the way it moves! The more we move our bodies and take time to appreciate them, the more confident we become in the strength, beauty, and energy of our bodies!

Exercise also builds overall confidence. Exercising is all about setting goals and meeting them. There is no escape from goal setting when it come to exercise. It is an integral part of exercise, whether your goal is to simply get off the couch and walk around the block 20 minutes, or whether your goal is to beat your last marathon time by 10 minutes.

This mental/emotional aspect of exercise can be very fulfilling. I remember the exhilaration of completing my first 5 km run. Oddly, it was nearly identical to the feeling of completing my first full marathon 4 years later! That feeling was confidence and pride in accomplishing a goal!

Do you take time when you exercise to appreciate what your mind and your body can do?

Exercise Is Relaxing:

Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day
is the rest we take between two deep breaths.
~Etty Hillesum
cc flickr photo from GrahamKing

Exercise is a known stress reducer--something most of us need in todays fast-paced world. Some exercise releases tension through the exertion of pumping our muscles and increasing our heart rates, while other exercise offers relaxation through the stretching of our muscles with the slowing and the deepening of our breathe. My two favourite stress busters fall on either end of this spectrum.

One of my favourite ways to clear my mind is a really tough trail run. When I'm out on the trails, I am so focused on my footing, my breath, my body, that my mind enters this glorious state of rest!

On the otherhand, pilates is one form of exercise I continuously return to for it's ability to calm me. Pilates allows me some quiet time to get in touch with my breath and my body in a slow, measured, and balanced way. It quiets and relaxes my mind.

Have you found an exercise that relaxes you?

Exercise Helps us to Appreciate Nature:

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
~Albert Einstein
Me and nature... Ahhhhh!

Exercise done outdoors increases our appreciation of nature and makes us more aware of our natural surroundings. Getting 'back to nature' has its own benefits, including stress reduction, a sense of serenity, and a sense of responsibility or stewardship for the earth.

I live in a paradise for outdoor activities. We are close to the ocean, a lake, and a river, near a ski hill, and surrounded by forested trails. My husband and I spend a lot of our time mountain biking, trail running, snowboarding, hiking, and camping.

Being outside helps keep me grounded. Nature reminds us that we are a very small part of the world and so are our problems. Nature reminds us that we have a responsibility to protect our earth.

Have you been outside today?

Exercise Lets us Spend Quality Time with Friends:

"There is no hope of joy except in human relations."
- Antoine de Sainte-Exupery

cc flickr photo from ornoth

Exercise can be a social activity. For me, it is almost always social. In fact, I'm terrible at exercising alone! I love meeting my girlfriends at exercise classes, running with a buddy, and biking with a group.

I'm way more motivated by exercising with others, because being with friends helps make exercise more fun! For those who want more time to hang with your friends, exercise is a great way to get in your social time.

Would an exercise buddy help motivate you?

Exercise Allows us to Eat Chocolate (and other devilish delights!):

"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt."
- Charles M. Schulz
cc flickr photo by elana's pantry

Exercise burns calories. In fact, we need those calories to exercise. And we get calories from the food we eat. What we eat is important to keeping our bodies healthy and strong.

And don't get me wrong, I'm all for eating healthfully and providing my body with essential nutrients. But, I also love my sweets...

And for a girl with a 'dessert compartment' in her tummy, I have personally always been in favour of the "if you burn it, you can eat it" theory. Hence, my favourite excuse TO exercise is that exercising allows me to eat chocolate!

What is your favourite treat to burn off with some vigorous activity?

cc flickr photo by 'Lorna is'

Of course, the excuses TO exercise are in no way limited to the above. I'm sure many of you have your own 'lists' of positive 'side effects' when it comes to exercise. Try focusing on these 'excuses TO exercise' whenever one of those 'excuses NOT to exercise' starts to niggle at your brain!

Considering the more immediate, tangible benefits of exercise is sometimes that extra little push we need to get off the couch!!!

Go team #temt...


  1. Thanks so much for this beautifully written post. Somehow it got posted and I didn't see it tonight when I logged on here.
    I love the focus on the reasons to exercise. I also love sweet treats and my husband and I indulge in something very small and shared on many evenings. It could be just a few dark chocolate raisinets or a tiny piece of cake cut in 2, but if I have exercised I allow myself the luxurious indulgence.
    Thanks again for helping us stay inspired and motivated!

  2. Our body is the greatest instrument we'll ever own. (Let's) use and play! :D

    Nice post, thank you.

    Tomaz Lasic (@lasic)

  3. Thank you Joan and Tomaz for your kind words! :-)

  4. Thanks for a great post and being part of the team. What is your Twitter ID? I'm making a list and want to add you. :)