The fitness industry is at a pivotal point in time. For a long time now, workout plans and fitness programs have had a similar focus. Get ripped in 30 days. Blast fat in just 4 weeks. Be lean. Cut. Shed. It’s all a little bit problematic.
Wanting to lose weight and working out as a tactic to achieve it isn’t a bad thing. But using it as the sole reason and purpose to do so can lead to some unhealthy relationships with exercise. We limit our focus to cardio and calories. We don’t enjoy the experience. We feel guilty for not doing it. Then we overdo it. A cycle develops and we end up resenting the whole thing and forming a relationship with exercise that’s pretty negative.
Slowly but surely, people are sussing out that this probably isn’t the best approach to encouraging exercise. Not only is it reductive, but it’s a little bit worrying.
Exercise, fitness and working out can play a much bigger and better role in people’s lives. There’s a wealth of reasons and motivations for getting involved that don’t involve aesthetics.
Tired of comparing yourself to bulging biceps on Instagram? Tired of measuring your progress on the definition of your abs? Tired of not feeling a part of fitness culture because you sit above a certain weight? It’s time to reassess your reasons to workout. Here’s 5 motivations to Hussle that don’t include weight loss.
It often causes the ultimate eye roll response, but the best way to fight fatigue and increase your energy levels is to exercise. It has a positive effect on your energy in both the long term, and in the moment. Studies are unanimous in agreement that regular exercise increases cardiovascular fitness and therefore the efficiency at which the blood brings oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. In return, this increases our ability to produce more energy. It’s a commitment and a continual motivation to stay active.
But working out can also give us a quick fix of energy. The endorphins that are released when we exercise are associated with a whole host of attractive benefits. One of these is increased energy. A feeling perhaps interchangeable with improved mood, reduced stress, and reduced pain, the endorphin surge felt post-workout is more than enough to motivate you to put your trainers on when feeling a bit lethargic.
Support your mental health
The research into the effects of exercise on your mental health is so vast, it’s hard to know where to start. The correlation between exercise and improved mental health is there. Regular exercise has been time and time again linked with lower rates of depression and other mental health disorders.
But again, it’s not just the long game that exercise works for. The release of those incredible endorphins can have an effect on your mood after just 30 minutes. It’s the effect linked to runner’s high and is likely what’s behind the positivity you feel when walking out of the gym doors. Game changer. Day changer.
Away from the science, there’s another positive effect exercise can have on your mental health. Taking time out of your day to do something just for you is a powerful exercise of self-care. You’re focusing on something that is personal and beneficial for just you and you deserve to enjoy it. In addition, focusing your mind onto your body, the movements it’s taking, and the way that it feels is a powerful mindfulness technique. It’s away to escape from constant thoughts or intrusive worries. Getting back in touch with your body and grounding yourself physically in whatever exercise it is you’re doing is a healthy way to put a busy mind back into perspective.
Challenge yourself and achieve things
Goal setting is an extremely powerful motivator and can give us some clear direction rather than feeling like we’re floating around without any clear idea of what we’re working towards. It’s relevant for many aspects of our lives. Learning for our next qualification. Working up towards our next career move. Growing into next levels of our relationship. Saving for our next big adventure. Why should fitness be any different?
Setting and achieving goals, no matter how big or small has a proven impact on self-confidence. If you love a bit of healthy competition then entering races, fitness challenges or team activities is a great driver to getting active. But lots of us aren’t that way inclined. Fitness is a personal journey, not a public one.
These goals should be specific to you, your current ability, and the role you want fitness to play in your life.
‘’I want to start lifting. I’ve always had weak upper body strength and thought the treadmill is probably where I belong. But I want to try something new, build my strength and keep lifting heavier weights each month.’’
‘’I’ve never enjoyed the gym. I go once or twice a week – if that. When I get there, I’m not motivated and I just wander aimlessly. I want to three something new. My goal is to work out x3 times per week and do a different type of workout each time. Yoga. Circuits. Spin.’’
‘’I think I’m ready for a marathon. I’ve always enjoyed running and have slowly built up my mileage over the years but to keep motivated I want to set myself the goal of doing the full 26.2 miles. I know I’ll need a training plan that involves both running and strength work and I’m determined to get there.’’
Better your general health
It’s stating the obvious to say that regular exercise is good for your general health. Away from any associations with weight loss, exercising helps to keep your body healthy in many ways.
Muscle maintenance. We ask a lot from both our muscles every single day. Without the adequate strength in them to support our requests, we’re susceptible to injury and weaknesses. The risk for these increases as we get older, so doing our future self a favour and maintaining muscle strength through regular exercise now is a must.
Avoid health conditions. A lack of exercise has been linked to a whole host of health conditions and chronic diseases. Diabetes, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, arthritis, metabolic syndrome and a number of cancers. Just to name a few.
Sleep. Everyone’s favourite pass time has been shown to be improved by exercise. Longer sleep durations and more restorative sleep are something lots of us need. Exercise can help with that. Just make sure not to be too active too close to bedtime as you will find it difficult to switch off.
If all of that isn’t enough, exercise is also linked to skin health, memory, reduced pain and even a better sex life. So, it’s safe to say that there are many motivations that can get you in the gym that aren’t weight loss. Our bodies deserve to be looked after and our minds deserve positive reasons to fit fitness into our lives. Maybe it’s time to put the scales away and focus our efforts elsewhere. Hussle for a different reason. Hussle to make life work out.