Exercise Because You Want To, Not Because You Have To.

“I’m so bad for skipping a workout”

“I’m going to have to work this off later”

“If I don’t work out today, I have to do double tomorrow”

Many people struggle with an unhealthy relationship with exercise and their bodies. Some individuals see exercise as a chore, they have the idea in their minds that working out is a task that needs to be completed and checked off their “to do” list each day. Others see it as something they need to do in order for them to “earn” their dessert or go back for seconds of their dinner. Some see it as a punishment, or something that needs to be done to burn off what they ate earlier that day.

Exercising and staying active have many benefits, and play important roles in our overall health, both physical and mental. Working out can help reduce stress and anxiety, and can lead to better sleep, higher self-confidence, and more energy. The CDC recommends that individuals should aim for 150 minutes of movement each week, or 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

It’s important to think about exercise as an activity we do because we love our bodies and want to take care of ourselves, rather than something we do to change ourselves. It should be an activity that brings us joy, and not something that we dread doing each day. When changing your mindset, I believe that you feel more motivated and empowered. Working out and exercising should affect our minds and mental health in a positive way, not bring us more stress.

As someone who is passionate about fitness and working out, it has taken me time to realize that rest days are ok, and that listening to your body is what’s most important.

During quarantine in 2020, I began to work out more consistently. Like many others, it was something that I began to do more regularly while I was home with nowhere to go. It began as a simple 15-to-30-minute Pilates or ab workout each night before bed and slowly progressed into longer workouts, sometimes multiple times each day, even if I wasn’t feeling my best or didn’t have the motivation. I was working out each morning and night because I felt like it was what I had to do.

Over time I have begun to realize that exercising and sticking to a strict workout schedule is not healthy if you don’t have the right mindset. There are true and important reasons why we should be exercising because we want to and not because we feel like we have to.

A few reasons you should take a rest day are if you’re sick, injured, only working out because of fear of weight gain or to burn off what you ate that day, or you just aren’t in the mood to exercise.

When working out it's important to go into your exercise with the right mindset. It should be an enjoyable activity and something that you look forward to. Exercise should not be pushing your body beyond its limits or feeling guilty for missing a workout. It should be taking rest days when you need them, finding workouts that bring you joy, and exercising because you want to take care of your body and your mind.

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