Family, Friends and Co-workers Suffer When You Aren’t At Your Best
For more information on my FitNow Boot Camp Program, visit fitnowbootcamp.com
by Brian Koning, ACE CPT, CBCI, WKC Trainer, IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist
I occasionally receive emails from clients informing me that their lives have suddenly become too busy and that they can no longer participate in my FitNow Boot Camp program. Having over 110 clients, that one person suddenly feels that they have become busier than all of the others. That may be, but I have a lot of clients who are very, very busy and still find time spend 30 minutes a day with one of the best group exercise programs available anywhere.
I’m always saddened when I hear that life has gotten in the way. Just like lack of weight loss is almost always related to the inability to make healthy nutritional choices, lack of time to exercise is directly related to one’s inability to set priorities and put themselves first. Health and fitness suddenly take a back seat when it should be in the driver’s seat.
Truth be told, when life becomes so hectic and perceptively out of control, this is the time to make exercise the number one priority. Without it, a chain of unfortunate events can exacerbate stress, bring on illness, reduce sleep, and adversely affect the ability to function at work, at home, and socially.
Who suffers? Your family, friends, and co-workers become collateral damage when you aren’t operating at peak levels.
You see, exercise has so many benefits when it comes to managing stress and increasing productivity. I know, because I am what many would describe as a “Type A” personality. I am always on the go. I am prone to a high level of stress. And, I battle manic depression – something I was clinically diagnosed with about 16 years ago. If I’m not careful and don’t include daily exercise as part of my daily routine, I will simply crash and burn. Planning my workouts and keeping them short and efficient helps me find balance in the other areas of my life including my work, marriage, family relationships, and recreational activities. I organize the rest of my day around exercise.
If you are not putting yourself and your health first by finding time for daily exercise, please consider these benefits…
1. Increase Energy and Productivity
Spending time exercising helps increase your energy and strength levels. Exercise by improving the efficiency of your heart and breathing results in more energy, and this energy boost enables you to be more productive in other areas of your life. When you exercise, your energy and strength levels increase. You’ll take in more oxygen and strengthen your heart and lungs.
2. Improve Your Self-Esteem
Improved self-esteem is a key psychological benefit of regular physical activity. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life. Endorphins act as an analgesic, which means they diminish the perception of pain. They also act as sedatives.
3. Relieve Stress
Exercise essentially burns away the chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine that cause stress. At the same time, vigorous exercise releases endorphins into the system. Other chemicals like dopamine and serotonin are also released in the brain during exercise. Together, these give a feeling of safety and security that contributes to off-setting some of the “internal” causes of stress, such as uncertainty, pessimism and negative self-talk.
4. Improve Sleep
Exercise can strengthen circadian rhythms, promoting daytime alertness and helping bring on sleepiness at night. Exercise has been shown to improve sleep for people with sleep disorders, including insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea. A recent National Sleep Foundation poll found that regular exercisers were significantly more likely to report sleeping well on most nights than people who were not physically active. Research has shown exercise can help to improve not only the quantity of sleep but also the quality: studies show daytime physical activity may stimulate longer periods of slow-wave sleep, the deepest and most restorative stages of sleep.
5. Minimize Downtime from Sickness
Recent studies have shown that there are physiological changes in the immune system as a response to exercise. During moderate exercise immune cells circulate through the body more quickly and are better able to kill bacteria and viruses. After exercise ends, the immune system generally returns to normal within a few hours, but consistent, regular exercise seems to make these changes a bit more long-lasting.
According to professor David Nieman, Dr. PH., of Appalachian State University, when moderate exercise is repeated on a near-daily basis there is a cumulative effect that leads to a long-term immune response. His research showed that those who walk at 70-75 percent of their VO2 Max for 40 minutes per day had half as many sick days due to colds or sore throats as those who don’t exercise.
6. Increase Life Expectancy
According to a 2012 study published in the journal PLoS Medicine, regular exercise can extend life expectancy. It took as little as the metabolic equivalent of a 10-minute daily walk to start extending one’s life span, the study found. Those who adhered to recommendations to get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise, or 1.25 hours of vigorous exercise, per week, reaped gains of roughly 3.5 years. While those with a greater commitment to physical activity continued to increase their average life spans, the authors found that the resulting increase in life span slowed as participants’ exercise levels rose beyond twice the recommended minimum.
So, instead of throwing in that sweaty towel when you are faced with new challenges, sit down and make a list of priorities. But when you do, the only thing that absolutely, positively can’t be moved is that time slot you give yourself for exercise. If your doctor told you today that you have cancer and that the only way you would live is to schedule a 3-hour chemotherapy appointment every single day, would you tell him you are too busy and just not go? Of course not! You’d rearrange your schedule.
I know this for a fact, because my wife and I learned our son had cancer back in 2003. We rearranged our schedules for more than three years because he needed treatment. Because of it, we now have a very healthy, cancer-free 11-year-old son! So… it can be done.
If you just take the same approach with exercise, you’ll feel better, look better and perform better!
Steve Oades, “Why Busy People Need Exercise Time”, CraveTime.com, 24 February, 2010
WebMd.com, “Exercise and Depression”, 2012
Fleur Hupston, “How Exercise Relieves Stress and Anxiety”, NaturalNews.com, 2010
Michael J. Breus, “Better Sleep Found by Exercising on a Regular Basis”, Psychology Today, SleepNewzz
Elizabeth Quinn, “Exercise and Immunity: Can too much exercise decrease your immunity and make you sick?” Spotsmedicine.About.com; April 04, 2011
Melissa Healy, “Study finds exercise adds to life expectancy, even for obese”, Los Angeles Times, 2012