The most significant means of self-care for me these days stems out of my exercise workouts. I have come to appreciate a routine with exercise that I fiercely protect- and I credit this to my mom and the wisdom and example she has passed down to me over my life.
My first encounter with exercise was when I was a little girl and my mom would take us on long walks. We lived in a small town when I was 2 until 8, and there we lived in front of a forest and across from a new subdivision. She would either walk us through the woods or down through all the new houses being built.
When we were a bit older we would start riding our bikes together as a family and I really loved this quality time together, and as I reached adolescence I would witness my mom putting time aside to exercise to videos on the tv. I specifically remember ‘Sweatin’ to the Oldies’ with Richard Simmons and his crazy hair.
I fell in love with exercise in my early 20s. One summer between my 2 and 3rd year of Bible College I felt very isolated socially as all my closest friends lived in Southern Ontario and I was up in Beachburg, a village, an hour north of Ottawa.
I was working at a resort for the summer but found myself having a lot of down time, so I challenged myself to do something I had never successfully done before- start jogging and hopefully begin to enjoy it.
I found the enjoyment spring up sooner than I had anticipated as I became consistent with my morning or evening jogs. The morning jogs became a great time to set myself up mentally for the day, and the evening jogs became a great reflective time for me.
Jogging become more than just losing and maintaining weight- it became my quiet time, my reflective time and my time with God. It became my biggest outlet of self-care.
If I felt stressed, or sad or needed time for some serious internal processing- I jogged.
I am not jogging as much these days as I once did as my mode of exercise has changed to cycling/spinning- this is more of an environmental issue for me; but there is something so peaceful about getting up with the sun and getting out in nature.
The benefits of exercise are many- so many in fact that it plays such an important role in our overall health and life expectancy.
Some specific benefits of exercise are:
- Exercise prevents cancer
- Exercise prevents heart attacks and heart disease
- Exercise improves lymphatic flow
- Exercise lowers stress
- Exercise promotes weight loss and decreases appetite
- Exercise may prevent diabetes and help control blood sugar in diabetics
- Exercise increase perspiration
- Exercise slows down the aging process
- Exercise builds strong bones
- Exercise improves your digestion and promotes frequent bowel movements
- Exercise gives you restful sleep
- Exercise helps prevent colds and flu
- Exercise reduces depression
- Exercise improves memory retention and reaction time
- Exercise slows Alzheimer’s disease and may help prevent Parkinson’s disease
- Exercise increase lung capacity
- Exercise alleviates pain
- Exercise increase your energy level*
I found that it takes time to figure out the right type of exercise that is the right fit. Over the years I have tried different types of exercise but found what I gravitate towards most is: jogging, cycling and lifting free weights.
Have you found your sweet spot in exercising yet? If not, here is a list of different styles of exercise- one not pick one you have not done before and try it?
Varieties of exercise:
- Stair stepping
- Cross country skiing
- Singles tennis
- Racquet ball
- Weight training
- Tai chi
- Skipping rope
The important thing here is to just move.
Move. Your. Body.
Do something that gets your heart pumping a little harder, and gets your joints and bones moving.
But then there is the obstacle of finding the time to add in exercise to an already overloaded schedule.
What if we considered some of these helpful ways to incorporate exercise into our schedule?
- Be intentional about adding exercise into your schedule- choose a time and stick to it
- Choose an exercise you enjoy: the best exercise is the one you will do
- Have an exercise partner: this may help with accountability
- Incorporate it into a social event- walk with a friend instead of going for coffee, or walk and drink coffee together
- Choose a location you enjoy- walk by the water or through a park
- Change it up- do not let yourself get bored, make it exciting, or at least stimulating
- Do occupational/transportation exercise: in your errands, park at the far end of the lot and walk to the store or use the stairs when you can.
- Follow an exercise influencer on social media- this is great for encouragement and motivation
There are so many opportunities to add exercise into our schedule in the day to day.
But overall, for your health and your self care, the most important take away I can leave you with you today is- just move. Move your body whenever you can- your body and health will thank you for it.
Source: * The Seven Pillars of Health, Dr Don Colbert