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The Joy of Exercise, or How to Enjoy Breaking a Sweat

Exercise is an essential element to having a healthy and balanced body. In days gone by, work and exercise were intimately connected more than they are today. Working outside, hunting, farming, gardening, moving the body were seamlessly integrated into the day-to day. However, culturally, that model of work has been mostly replaced by a sedentary lifestyle. We don’t hunt or farm for our food anymore, we go to the grocery store. And for many, work involves sitting for long periods of time throughout the day. Over time, a sedentary lifestyle can produce many adverse health problems and risks. The body, and our overall health, suffers if we don’t exercise. It’s important to counteract the hours we spend sitting by exercising, getting out there, breaking a sweat.

For many, finding time to exercise feels like the biggest challenge. Long workdays and career related stress often don’t feel conducive with developing an exercise routine. It feels like one more task in a litany of things you have to accomplish. It feels like a chore. But, it’s precisely because of the stress you encounter and accumulate everyday that you should make exercise a priority. Because exercise releases endorphins, nature’s “feel goods,” in the body, it can help you cope with stress and clear your mind. Not to mention that regular exercise will help you feel better during the day. So, you might think of exercise as a practice that enhances your performance during the work the day, rather than something that takes up time. And research shows that people who exercise consistently are generally more happy and positive.

But, then again, finding the energy to develop a regular exercise habit might feel exhausting. After a long day, the last thing you want to do is exert more energy. By developing an exercise strategy you enjoy, you increase the likelihood that you’ll stick with it, make a habit of it.

So, how do you do this? Instead of thinking of exercising as something you tackle alone, consider ways you can make exercise a social activity. You might jog of walk with a friend. Or meet a colleague at the gym after work. Or go to a yoga class. Play tennis or racquetball, or swim in your local pool. Look to channel motivation from people around you. Exercising with others can be a great strategy for dispelling any negative associations you have around exercise. Rather than another task, exercise can become a chance to build community, catch up with friends, or make new friends. Make exercise something you can look forward to rather than dread. By exercising with others, you’ll also have people to keep you accountable for your exercise practice, making you much more likely to remain consistent, which can have astoundingly positive effects on your health in the long-run.

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