Looking Beyond the Horizon of Physical Fitness
The other night as I sat riding my spin bike, I began to think about the reasons why I was putting myself through so much physical demand. It dawned on me that there was a certain amount of pressure to “get fit” before summer (i.e. bathing suit weather). This got me wondering how many other people start working out more and eating healthier as soon as spring arrives. I have always considered myself a person that exercises not only for the aesthetic benefits, but also to reap the health advantages. But I would be lying if I said that the idea of a particular body image wasn’t, at least, a part of why I work out. So, I pose the question to all those that are season-specific sportspersons; do you exercise to look good or does exercise have a value that goes beyond physical appearance?
When I decided to have children, my reasons for exercising changed dramatically. I realized how important is was for me to stay healthy so that I could be around to watch them graduate, go to prom, get married and have children of their own. That was the first time that I thought about the physical benefits of exercise. Outside of all the stuff you read about in magazines, such as a healthy heart, strong muscles to support aging joints and maintaining a lower weight to avoid many health concerns, I have found the biggest impact on my body is the peace of mind I get.
The mental benefits play a key role in how the rest of the body responds to factors like stress, fatigue and illness. If you are a parent, have a job, or take on any other activities/responsibilities in your life, you most likely also have stress, fatigue and even illness. Many people spend a majority of their day listening to noise; to do lists, priorities, meetings, calls, etc.. The only time I have during an entire 24-hour period to stop and slowdown is when I exercise. For me, running and yoga offer so much more than great health benefits, although they most certainly to that too. But I get some peace of mind; a quiet place to gather my thoughts, to let go of anything I don’t need to hold on to and ultimately, to hit my restart button.
It is no secret that we live in a culture and time where there is an emphasis on beauty, and media is saturated with physical appearance, but there is also so much beauty in living a long and HEALTHY life, watching the ones you love grow and prosper; ultimately … having time. I would challenge readers to look deeper into your goals for exercising and eating healthy. Look beyond just the here and now; the instant gratification mode that our society tends to live by. Take that same dedication that you start spring with and see what happens if you extend that beyond swimsuit season. In the midst of winter when your body goes into that repetitive state of eating more and exercising less, think outside the physical realm of beauty and look ahead to not only the upcoming summer, but to where you hope to be physically and mentally 10 years from now.
“The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do you have fitness advice? Please share in the comments below!