Exercise: What do you think of when you hear that word?
Raise your hand if you’ve ever viewed exercise as…
- A chore
- A punishment for eating “bad food”
- A way to deem yourself as worthy
- An activity that you tolerate to be with friends or loved ones
Unfortunately, many of my clients have come to me with these views on exercise. Like them, I used to see exercise as a pesky task and never looked forward to it. Over the years, my attitude towards physical activity has COMPLETELY changed. I’m not sure when the mental switch happened, but I assure you that you can train yourself to enjoy movement.
I now use exercise purposefully. It’s a tool that helps me…
- Take a break from work
- Sleep better
- Increase my energy before an important event
- Be more productive
- Clear my mind
Here are a few tips on how to use exercise strategically…
- If you want to feel more inspired or creative, go for a walk. I love going for a walk as a break in the day. It’s a great way to clear my head before starting a new project. It’s also my strategy to overcome writer’s block or being “stuck” on something I’m working on. A Stanford study explains that walking indoors or outdoors boosted people’s creative output by 60%!
- If you have a brain-draining day ahead, do a short circuit workout. I don’t do Body Pump or long, grueling workouts on days when I have back to back appointments or a schedule that is more jam-packed than usual. Why? Because I don’t want to add to an already stressful day by putting more stress on my body. We have to remember that challenging physical exercise causes oxidative stress. Small amounts of oxidative stress are beneficial because your cells react to it by becoming stronger and increasing your body’s antioxidants, but everyone has a limit to how much oxidative stress they can handle. So, on brain-draining days, it’s not worth it to me to do an extreme workout in the morning. Instead, I like to do a 20-30 minute circuit workout at home. It might include 3 sets of moves like push-ups, squats, planks, lunges, tricep dips, etc. By doing a short circuit workout, I get to reap the benefits of exercise (more mental focus, productivity, and positivity), but do not feel completely sore and drained for the tough day ahead.
- If you need an energy boost, commit to your “soulmate workout” or get outside. By soulmate workout, I mean any form of exercise that makes you happy. If you haven’t found what that is yet, keep searching. It could be hiking, Zumba, Cize, a kickboxing class with good music, dancing, the list goes on. It’s a bonus if you can get outside because “Sunlight can increase the body’s production of serotonin, which lifts mood and increases energy (Jacob Teitelbaum, Internist).”
- If you need to get a goodnight’s sleep, try Yoga or Tai Chi. Yoga.org explains, “The practice of certain yoga postures will increase the blood circulation to the sleep center in the brain, which has the effect of normalizing the sleep cycle.” Yoga and Tai Chi help relieve common causes of sleep disorders: a racing mind, stress, and tension. It has been claimed that on average, for every minute you do yoga you will need one minute less of sleep. I used to think yoga was a waste of time, but I have grown to realize how important it is for whole-body wellness.
Don’t know where to start when it comes to exercise? Sign up for my newsletter to receive a free High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Workout Guide! Comment below with how YOU use exercise strategically… I want to know what your soulmate workout is!