Expert Health Articles

Developing the Habit of Movement

I was finishing my workout recently when a very tenured member of the gym, and life, asked me, “Does this ever get easy? When will I finally look forward to my workouts? Do you love coming here every day?” His inquiries triggered the recall of one of my favorite quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson; “The years teach much that the days will never know.” At times it can be difficult to factor in 30-60 minutes of movement into our lives, 3-5 days a week, which is the recommendation of Health and Human Services and the American College of Sports Medicine. In addition, if our expectation is that we will learn to love every minute of it, we will be sorely disappointed.

What we can expect is that as we develop the habit of movement, we will begin to change not just physically, but more importantly, mentally and emotionally. Exercise isn’t about how you look; it’s about how you feel. The physical changes are just a happy side effect. We cannot deny the mind-body connection. I often remind myself of what Amy Cuddy tells us in her book, Presence, “when you change your body, you change your mind. When you change your mind, you change your behavior. When you change your behavior, you change your outcomes.”

The truth is, conditioning your body for movement conditions your mind for confidence, creativity and happiness. This evolution is very insidious and subconsciously, it’s the way you feel after the workout more than the exercise itself that continues to forge your path to the gym. As your body acclimates to increased and consistent movement you secrete more dopamine, endorphins and testosterone leaving you happier, calmer, more peaceful, stronger and confident. That’s what to look forward to more than just getting to the gym; it’s the weeks and years, not just the day. Regular exercise also decreases the secretion of cortisol, notoriously known as the “stress hormone,” which wreaks havoc with every system in our body if gone unchecked. Our bodies function more efficiently and effectively, and we can think clearly as the buildup of cortisone diminishes.

                Another hurdle is that inner critic in our heads, that unrelenting little voice that reiterates every reason why we shouldn’t exercise: I’m too big, too small, not strong enough, not coordinated enough, everyone will stare at me, I don’t know what to wear . . . The trick is just to show up. You’ll figure it all out when you get there. Findlay offers so many places you can show up to, including, parks to walk, trails to ride your bike or run, a variety of facilities to swim, strength train, play pickleball, tennis all with several types of classes and cardio equipment. Most fitness experts will gladly share their expertise, as well. We couldn’t live in a better place to figure out what activity we enjoy enough, alone or with others, to hang in there until the years teach us more than the days will ever tell us.

 

Nancy Proctor

BVHS Service Excellence