Fitness: 15 Benefits of Exercise + Daily Cardio Workouts
I do not like to exercise. I know it's bad. When I go to the doctor, I lie. "I'm an average exerciser, I work out a few times a week." Nope. I do like to walk, but I don't go for long walks every day. I love yoga, but I only do it every now and then. It's unlikely I will ever have a gym membership.
I honestly don't love the western gym philosophy. There's just something wrong with sitting most of your day and then going to exercise super hard for an hour. We sit at work, we sit on the commute, we sit down to dinner, then we move to the couch to watch tv. Somewhere in the middle maybe we work out. That just seems flawed.
It's not that I'm incredibly lazy (or maybe it is). I used to be quite fit. I was an athlete in high school and college, and I truly enjoyed the exercise and camaraderie. I just haven't found a way to keep it up. It's not fun anymore. I feel like I've heard so many people say the same thing. "Well, I was really active in high school when I did sports. I just don't do much anymore and I'm so out of shape."
Luckily, There ARE options. Join a rec sports team, find a fun cool exercise activity (acro-yoga, basketball, rowing, pole dancing, whatever). One of my favorite ways to get exercise is just through my daily life - walking around my neighborhood, carrying my groceries home, etc. Still, whether or not you have a fun option available nearby, can afford a gym membership, or live somewhere walkable, you still need to get physical exercise into your life, and it’s really not that hard.
Benefits of Fitness
Exercising has SO many benefits. Whether you are already someone who exercises regularly or not, it’s important to plug fitness into your life in a consistent, easy way. It’s not about having one great workout, it’s about making a habit of exercising so that it’s part of your normal healthy routine and can make you healthier and happier over time.
Makes you happier
Decreases depression, anxiety, and stress
Increases endorphins, which make you happy and reduce pain
Helps with weight loss
Helps you build strong muscles and bones
Boosts energy and reduces fatigue
Reduces your risk of disease
Reduces oxidative stress and gives you better skin (even as you age)
Increases your body's production of natural antioxidants
Improves brain health, memory, and cognitive ability
Improves sleep and calms you down
Reduces chronic pain
Boosts sex drive and improves sexual performance and pleasure
Strengthens the cardiovascular system, improves blood circulation, tones muscles, and enhances flexibility
On top of all of the above, I’m so down for the exercise high. I don’t know about you, but when people talk to me about being ‘high on life,’ I’m like, “I want that. That sounds great!” There’s a lot of research out there about how and why this occurs, but here’s what you need to know: intense activity releases brain chemicals that induce feelings of pleasure. You don’t necessarily feel great at first, but it’ll really kick in when you hit that point where it’s hard to talk because you’re breathing so hard. Everything feels a little bit looser, you realize you can do it, you feel stronger, your blood is pumping faster, and your body, mind, and heart are on fire. It’s truly awesome.
Regular activity has so many incredible benefits. It increases the production of hormones that make you feel happier and help you sleep better. It can improve your skin's appearance, counteract aging, help you lose weight, lessen the risk of chronic disease, and improve your sex life. Physical activity has sooo many benefits. Even though you may not always feel like working out, if you can just make yourself commit to 10-30 minutes of hard exercise most days, you can make an incredible positive impact on your life.
The 10-Minute Cardio At Home Hack
Go search YouTube right now for ‘10 minute cardio’. You'll find such an awesome variety of free videos. You can also search for 15 minute HIIT training, 20 minute apartment cardio, or whatever you like! I like to search for ‘apartment’ or ‘silent’ cardio to find exercises that don't require jumping around since I live on the third floor. There are still SO many awesome videos available.
Even when I’m really lazy and don’t feel like doing anything, I can exercise for 10 minutes. Every (or at least almost every) day, you can work out, get your heart rate up, and sweat for at least 10 minutes. Feel free to exercise longer some days, get fit twice a day, or take a few days off. The important thing is to keep coming back to it. Because it’s easy to fit 10 minutes of good, hard, sweaty exercise into your day.
It will suck for the first few days, but keep going and listen to your body. You’ll feel the endorphin boost, how sexy and glorious you feel afterward, how much more you crave produce and clean water instead of bread and wine, and you will want to keep going. Do it. No big commitment, but keep up the 10 minutes a day. As it gets easier, build to 15, 20, or 30 minutes.
1% Wins to Start Doing As Often As You Can
Look up a 10-20 minute cardio session (they're all over the place and totally free on YouTube - I love MadFit). These are awesome, and they take up a tiny portion of your day. The key here is to work up a sweat so your body signals for endorphins and you activate fat-loss.
Go for a 15-30 minute walk. Studies show that just getting outside for just 15 minutes and getting some sunshine can support mental and physical health.
Do yoga, in a class or on a mat at home. See what I said before about how incredible YouTube is for exercise videos.
Exercise can give you SUCH a boost. It is one of those incredible things that benefits mind, body, spirit, and future habits. If you want to 'life hack' or make the most of exercise (while still not actually going to the gym), you can start your day with a quick morning cardio boost to get your heart pumping and wake you up, fresh for a new day. Then, take it a step further. Right after you finish work, before you make it to the couch, do a quick workout again. This is an awesome time to take a hike outside if the sun’s still up, do some hot yoga, or even just complete another 10 minute YouTube video.
Having this concrete block separates your work day from your personal day and melts away all of that stress and tension. Doing a quick second workout gives you an energy boost for the evening and reminds you that the time is yours to use as you choose (and hopefully to instill some superhero evening behaviors). Granted, a complete evening shift comes from more than just the brief period of exercise. It comes from balance - more exercise, better nutrition, less TV, less alcohol, and better sleep. But, and here's the really fun part - each small change starts to increase your ability to be even more incredible. You've got this!
When you begin exercising more, you’ll want to feel the way it makes you feel more often - sweaty, alive, healthy, and vibrant. You’ll begin to eat healthier, drink less alcohol and more water, and your sleep will naturally improve. Even more incredible is the fact that, every time you put in the work to do something that is difficult (even and especially when you don't want to, and even when it is only 10 minutes long), you teach yourself that you can keep promises to yourself and make the right choices even when it is hard. Keep on building that personal strength and power!
These 1% wins are huge for your personal integrity, growth, willpower, and mindset. Even when you're exhausted, drained, and need to take off, just keep in mind that the most important piece of superhero training is that you Just Don't Quit. Take a break, take care of yourself, rest up, then continue the daily habit of 10-30 minutes superhero exercise and keep growing.
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Do you have any tips for quick exercise at home? What's your favorite way to get fit? I'd love to learn more about you in the comments below!