Exercise: The Inherent Benefits & Hindrances

Exercise—when done right—is constructive for your health. This isn’t anything new; many of us are aware of the manifold benefits that come from physical exercise, whether that is swimming, spinning, running, rowing, dancing, or countless other activities known to increase your heart rate. Whatever it is, exercise has the power to…

  • boost your mind, decreasing feelings of anxiety & stress
  • play a vital role in building & maintaining strong muscles & bones
  • aid in skin health due to increased blood flow and antioxidant production
  • enhance sleep quality and relaxation
  • improve brain function, especially memory and thinking skills

Another known “benefit” of exercise is weight-loss. People are likely to increase their fitness routine in hopes of shedding x amount of pounds. While this is possible, here’s why exercise alone is not the most efficient way to achieve your weight-loss goals.

The human body’s energy system is a lot more complicated than simply “calories in equal calories out.” Researchers have tracked that people who increased their workouts and simultaneously keeping their diets the same found they lost less than a few pounds. This is due to exercise only accounting for a small percentage (less than 30%) of our daily calorie burn; in other words, more calories are burned doing everyday activities, ones that are as simple as breathing & digesting.

Another factor into this account is that exercise can undermine weight loss, especially in regard to how many calories you think you burned. I’m a part of this, too, guilty of telling myself I deserve that extra scoop, that extra piece, that extra whatever because of the spin class I went to that morning. Due of this, increasing your workout routine does hold the potential to make you gain weight, which is counterproductive if your ultimate goal is to lose it.

Don’t get me wrong. Mental health is a huge factor, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying ice cream, pizza, and a million other delicious foods the world has to offer. I know how easy it is to get caught up in what’s “healthy,” forgetting that my mindset may be the part that’s actually suffering.

If you’re looking to lose weight, the best strategy really does seem to be focusing on obtaining wholesome foods, watching portion sizes, and making sure you’re not sedentary at a desk all day. Despite the possibilities of weight gain that come with exercise, there are also numerous benefits that outweigh any hindrances. Be sure to get quality sleep, give yourself time to relax, and find daily routines that works for you. Of course, all of this is much easier said than done.

Lastly, it is essential to understand that a number on the scale is not equivalent to being happy long-term. Life always will come with setbacks, with challenges, with struggles. These are meant to be dealt with; they hold power make you stronger and more resilient. No matter what number you read standing on a scale, you are worthy of being happy, loved, and, yes, drinking a milkshake once in a while. Don’t let a weight tear you down or define you—A number is not equal to being happy, no matter how deceiving it is.

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Lake Michigan on January 18, 2018
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FIRST run of 2018

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