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TEN ALTERNATIVE REASONS TO GET FIT
By Ruth Frost
We’ve all heard the ‘get fit, lose weight’ rationale for exercise a thousand times. But here are ten other reasons to get moving which you may not have thought of.
Create more hours in the day
Think you don’t have enough time in the day to work out? In his life-changing book The Four Hour Body, author Tim Ferriss recounts a story from a conference at billionaire businessman Richard Branson's home, where Branson was asked his top tip for productivity. "Branson leaned back and thought for a second…then he broke the silence. 'Work out.' He was serious and elaborated: working out gave him at least four additional hours of productive time each day." Time seems to stretch after a run or workout – suddenly it seems there are more minutes in the hour than there were before, you are mentally clearer, and get more done.
Increase your chance of survival in a disaster
You may laugh, but this can be a big motivating factor for some clients. If your life depended on your lifting your bodyweight up and over a high wall, could you do it? What if it was you and your child and you had to lift their weight as well as your own? How about if you had to run two kilometres to get life-saving help for your best friend – how would you feel if you couldn’t do it? I feel we have a duty of care to those around us to maintain at least a basic level of fitness.
Increase your day to day safety
This reason is less dramatic than the one above, but more relevant day to day! You hone motor skills, balance and core strength with exercise. This means you’ll catch yourself more easily if you trip on a paving slab, for example, or slip on a wet step. This day-to-day enhanced ability to look after oneself was one of the surprise joys for me of getting fit. It helps you look after others day-to-day too.
Improve your mental health
Exercise releases endorphins in the brain and makes you better at handling adrenaline, hence calmer in stressful situations. It also creates new cells in the area of the brain which shrinks during depression (See ‘Achieving Euphoria Through Fitness’ article). If your physical health isn’t enough of a motivator, try thinking about this instead.
All those endorphins help you feel happy and light-hearted and it’s quite common to get the giggles after a really good workout. Which gives even more exercise to your heart and lungs and helps you and those around you feel good.
Boost your love life
Exercise boosts testosterone in both men and women, increases blood flow to pelvic organs and releases endorphins, all making you feel more ‘up for it’; better cardio health means keeping going for longer, and greater flexibility allows you to achieve more of those Karma Sutra poses.
Get glowing skin
Sweating purges toxins from your body, dirt from your pores and increases blood flow to the skin, giving you a wonderful glow, and helping your skincare products work better.
Eat more healthily
Your internal hunger gauge is more sensitive when you are exercising regularly, making it much easier to avoid over-eating. Exercise boosts hormones that initiate satiety – that tell you when you’re full, and that take account of calories already consumed that day. As time goes by this mechanism becomes increasingly sensitive. So if you’re exercising regularly, having a healthy diet will become much easier.
Make your children happier
Here’s one for parents (and grandparents, carers, aunties, uncles...). It’s nice for kids to have mums and dads who can play actively with them – run around the garden, or play tickling games on the floor, for example - without having to take a break after two minutes because of being out of breath. Your child also has peace-of-mind if they see you are keeping yourself well – for example, the anti-obesity message is strong in schools, so there is worry for a child with very overweight parents. A friend also told me, “Doing well at the Parents’ Race at your child’s school sports day should be in your article. There was so much tension on that start line [at her five year old daughter’s recent Day], there were eight false starts! My legs hurt for days afterwards”.
It’s the one thing experts agree on
Dietary and health advice changes all the time. Go back only a few years and fat in food was the number-one enemy to avoid. Now we are being told we need some fats, and that sugar is virtually a poison. There was a growing school of thought that we should eat a plant-based diet; but the latest Paelo craze cuts out grains and advocated quality red meat. It’s hard to know who to believe. But I have never yet heard a health expert claim that exercise is bad for you. Yes there are trends in the fitness industry and different types and intensities of exercise suit different people, but all the experts agree that exercise is crucial to good health.
Copyright Ruth Frost, July 2013