The hidden benefits of exercise

This week I have done consultations with 2 new clients and when it came to asking them WHY they wanted to take up personal training my face lit up at their answers

"for my mind", "to de-stress from work" and "for fun"

The health and fitness industry bombards us with images and slogans that cement an idea of fitness being a way to get your summer body, get stronger, get slimmer, all whilst pushing/punishing your body. Perhaps because it's easier to sell something visual, the 'other' outcomes are often ignored. However, in light of Mental Health Awareness week I thought I would highlight these hidden benefits of exercise.

Happy - It's a well-known fact that exercises releases endorphins, those wonderful hormones that make us happy. Just 10 minutes can make a massive difference, especially over time. How often have you dragged yourself to the gym despite feeling a bit flat, only to leave feeling better?

Connected - even if the air isn't that 'fresh', being outside and feeling the elements on your skin is an amazing way to feel connected to where you are. Our lives often revolve around computers, virtual worlds, smart phones. Turning everything off and getting outside brings us back to our reality, in a good way.

Alive - there's nothing quite like the feeling of your heart beating and sweat dripping down your back to remind you that you are alive. Sometimes life can get monotonous, but adding a challenging workout can help break the day to day grind. 

Accomplished - fitness and exercise are a great way to challenge ourselves. Whether it's a 5km run or lifting a weight you never thought you could, that sense of achievement adds to our inner confidence and feeling of self worth. 

De-stressed - it's almost an oxymoron! How can something make you feel more alive, energised and 'pumped' yet also de-stressed? Exercise can be almost meditative - whether you are on bike, lifting weights, doing a HIIT workout - whatever you are doing, you are co-ordinating your mind, body and breathing in order to do it correctly. Your brain doesn't have the time to worry about work or life, it's too busy trying to do the exercise. This time out of your day to day thoughts gives your mind a rest and allows those stresses to melt away. 

The list could go on...! 

It's no secret that we live in a culture that is growing in size (width ways!) and tackling this with exercise is important. However, focusing on the benefits that aren't so visual help to move that motivation to something internal. This is when the changes you make become long term and when you can really become fit for life, for the rest of your life!