A friend of mine is reluctantly taking up a fitness routine to improve her health, and I want to encourage her.
I offer the following list for her and for me, too. Exercise is not always fun or easy, and even those of us who exercise regularly need a nudge (or violent push) once in a while.
I exercise for:
- Vanity. I know I’m supposed to be exercising because my body is a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19), but honestly, I exercise for an improved appearance. A lot of things I can’t control changed when I turned 40. It won’t be long before wrinkles, lack of collagen, cellulite, freckled skin and gray hair in all the wrong places trumps a tight butt, and then perhaps I will exercise for God, but until then, I exercise for the mirror.
- Improved mood. I know for sure I handle stress better when I’m exercising regularly. I blow off a lot of emotional steam along with literal steam when I’m running, and I’m more calm all day. (For those of you who have dealt with me when I’m not placid and easy-going, imagine how much worse I could be!)
- Better sleep. I fall asleep easier and sleep more soundly on days I run.
- Functional fitness. I don’t often have to run anywhere, so I don’t run so that I can run better in general life situations. But because I run, I don’t get winded when I take the steps, I don’t resent having to park in the back of the parking lot and I can bend over to tie my shoes without holding my breath.
- Improved mobility in old age. My grandfather who lived to be 85 considered “cream and butter” to be a food group because he had almost no teeth and they were easy to eat, but he puttered around his farm until he died. My 95-year-old grandmother still lives on her own. Odds are, I will live to be 90 or older, and I don’t want my world to shrink to one room because it’s too hard to get around with the wheelchair and oxygen tank.
- Occasional guilt-free indulgences. I cannot eat whatever I want to eat, but I do sometimes eat Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, Doritos, copious amounts of guacamole and Cold Stone Creamery ice cream.
- Fresh air. Working from home with a computer and phone as the primary tools to keep me employed, whole days can go by without me stepping outside. I can’t always walk or run outside, but when the weather is cooperating, I have an excuse to enjoy the scenery. And when I am traveling, running around the neighborhood allows me to get my bearings and enjoy the local atmosphere.
- Personal satisfaction. I derive a great deal of gratification from recording the distance I’ve covered in my running log. My goal is to cover 20 miles a week (at any speed), and being able to add up my weekly mileage and record a double-digit number that begins with “2” is what sometimes drives me to get out at all or to walk another 10 minutes.
And finally, I get out of bed and exercise so I can eat breakfast. Myself and I have made a deal: If I exercise, Myself gets breakfast. When I put off exercising, it often gets put off not until lunchtime or after dinner, but until tomorrow. If I get my date with my running shoes out the way, my duty is done and my reward is eating.
Inspire me, inspire others or inspire yourself, and share why you exercise. I’d love to hear from you.