Friday, January 16, 2015

Why is exercise actually important and how can it affect my life?

For me, exercise is important because my daily workout is the time in which I feel the most powerful. The last few months have been consumed by Crossfit workouts and weight lifting- both of which intimidate a lot of people, and are the butt of many a fitness criticism. Over the last 7 years, I have tried most of the workouts out there- from yoga to barre to TRX to long distance running, and nothing makes me feel better about myself than regular Crossfit classes and weight lifting.

If you haven't heard of Crossfit, it has become very popular over the last 10 years as a form of high intensity training combining gymnastic movements, weightlifting, bodyweight movements and cardio. The gyms are called 'boxes' and can now be found worldwide. It is often condemned for the perceived potential for injury- and I won't pretend that there isn't a risk associated with the sport- or ANY sport for that matter. There is risk associated with pretty much everything we do- I am probably just as likely to trip and eat it running or fall down the stairs as I am to sustain a injury doing Crossfit if I am performing the movements correctly. (That said, as with any exercise program, ask for help when you need it!)
Some of the faces I can't wait to see
when I head to the gym

Weight lifting also gets a bad rap in some spheres of the fitness world- supposedly it makes girls 'big' and 'manly' so many women forgo the heavy barbells and low reps for light weights and high rep workouts. Yes, when you break down a muscle by lifting heavy weights, it will grow bigger, and women that specifically train for strength are likely to have large muscles. The ladies you see with killer quads and crazy abs work REALLY REALLY hard to get that fit. Lifting a couple of days a week or taking a few Crossfit classes will not make you bulk up like that! It has been proven, however, that building lean muscle mass also helps your body to burn more fat…. raise your hand if you are anti-fat-burning! No one? Yep. Thought so.

The point of this isn't to get you hooked on weight lifting or Crossfit- the point is that I have managed to find a form of exercise that I LOVE. That I look forward to almost every day, and that has helped me develop some great friendships and a support group that pushes me to be better every time I show up. This is how exercise has affected MY life. How can it affect yours?

flexibility and strength thanks to climbing, yoga and Crossfit

  • You'll look better. Lets not beat around the bush here, most of us work out to improve our physical appearance (at least to start out!). 
  • You will be happier. Exercise=endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. (And happy people just don't kill their husbands.- Legally Blonde)
  • It is a great form of 'me time'. Many of us are so busy that we don't make time for ourselves, and our wellbeing suffers because of it. A walk, run, bike ride or yoga session is a great way to spend time with yourself.
  • You will live longer. It's science.. and you can't argue with science. 

So now I've laid out this super compelling argument for WHY you should exercise, how do you actually do it? 
  • Literally put on a pair of shoes and go for a walk, jog or run. 
  • Check out local gyms and fitness studios- many offer discounted or free passes to potential members/clients.
  • Sign up for a personal (or group) training session. Although they can be pricy, this is a fantastic way to start out and get a great base of knowledge as far as proper movement patterns, exercise ideas and a program that works for your fitness level, schedule and goals. 
  • Check out the internet- distance coaching and personalized programs are available for very reasonable prices online! 

I would never have ended up here if I didn't sweat my ass off hiking up a mountain...

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