I joined the local gym last August in an attempt to combat my anxiety and in general, my mental health, as well as to keep physically fit. I knew if I paid the money up front for one year, I would hold myself accountable to going most days of the week. I notice when I skip a day or two I am short tempered and irritable. Anyhow, in the eight months since I have been going to the gym these are some of the “motivators” I hear during class:
“It’s almost summer. Let’s get bikini ready.”
“It’s almost tank top season. Let’s pump up those arms.”
“It’s almost shorts season. Let’s work on those legs.”
“We work out so we can eat that cake/drink that wine.”
“Let’s burn off those extra calories from the weekend.”
“Let’s burn off those calories we ate this week from Thanksgiving/Christmas/Passover.”
Why do people exercise? Work out? Participate in sports or any physical activity? Is it out of vanity? Is it to look good? Maybe. Is it so they can eat whatever/whenever they want? Maybe. Society/social media tends to focus on how we are supposed to LOOK, instead of on how we should FEEL inside (emotionally and physically). This needs to change. Not every person is ever going to be a size 2, nor should they be. That is below the norm and for some people, that is not a healthy size.
Let’s face it. Some people that go to the gym, are never going to wear a bikini, tank top, or shorts. And if they choose to, and they are not what society deems a “beach body”, I applaud them for having great self confidence. It doesn’t matter what one looks like, but how one feels inside. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. I believe a lot of gym goers, like myself, are at the gym because they want to be healthy. They are not at the gym striving for a “beach body”. Well, I’m not, anyway. I go to release tension, keep my anxiety at bay, and stay heart healthy.
Physical activity promotes good health in many ways. In an earlier post I wrote about the effects of exercise on mental health. We can physically see what exercise does to the outside of the body (tones muscles/keeps figures slim), but do we really know what it does to the inside of our body? Here are twelve effects physical activity has on the inside of the body:
1. Boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This helps the blood flow smoothly and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
2. Delivers oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and helps the cardiovascular system work more efficiently.
3. Boosts the immune system.
4. Significantly reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure and can help to lower blood pressure in those who already have high blood pressure.
5.Prevents and helps control type 2 diabetes. Exercise helps insulin to work better and also makes the cells more sensitive to the effects of insulin.
6. Aids in digestion and promotes regular bowel movements.
7. Helps to prevent the build-up of plaque on the walls of arteries decreasing the risk of heart disease.
8. Weight-bearing exercises help preserve bone mass and thus protects against osteoporosis.
9. Builds and strengthens muscles, which can protect the bones from injury, and support and protect joints affected by arthritis. Strong muscles also give stability and improve balance and coordination.
10. Lubricates the joints, and reduces joint pain and stiffness. It also helps people with arthritis by increasing flexibility and muscle strength.
11. Improves respiratory efficiency.
12. Improves quality of life. Decreases risk of strokes, cancers, diabetes, heart disease. Slows the aging process and allows us to live longer.
Some of my friends are exercise instructors. I hope they still will be after this post. I am just trying to point out another way social media influences all of us, especially women. We all have to love the body we have, even the parts we don’t like. Big calves. Big butt. Wide hips. Flat chest. Round tummy. We need to stop focusing on what we wished we looked like and accept the body we have. Forget about burning calories and toning our bodies so we’ll look good in a bikini, tank top, shorts. Focus on how physical activity will make us FEEL. How it will prolong our lives. I hope to live a long time. I’ve only been given one body to live in, and I am going to do all I can to take care of it INSIDE and OUT!