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The Why Exercise? (Part 1)

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

Welcome back fitness friends! Glad you are keeping in touch and continuing to read my blogs. In previous posts I have discussed four of the five "W's." Now it's time to cover the final one (the why) in this series. Like I did with the "Where of Exercise," this will have multiple phases or parts with each one's focus being on a different aspect of why we should exercise.

There are many reasons people do what they do, and that includes working out. Because we all have experienced different life events, everyone may have personal stories that have led them to make the choice to include fitness into their lives. What I am going to write about in Part 1 is why it is crucial to get up, get out and get moving from what may be the most obvious physical point of view.

As a fitness professional, the most common reasons I hear for deciding to become more active is getting stronger and/or losing weight. While this is a great reason, do we understand why this is so important?

Many of us know that exercise can change the physical appearance of how one looks, but that is only part of the picture. When we exercise, we experience a series of physical changes that, if performed regularly, contribute to and alter how we look. Some of what may be experienced are an increase in mobility, sweating, and muscular fatigue, all of which lead to our bodies being able to perform better and/or more efficiently in the long run.

I'm sure there have been mornings when you woke up achy and stiff. Maybe your first few steps sounded a lot like Rice Krispies cereal. Did you notice that after a bit of movement you started to loosen up? Although it doesn't seem like that short time was really enough physical activity to burn substantial calories, it did allow for a more erect posture. You may have gone from a hunched over position to standing up nice and tall, or a few short shuffle steps to a longer stride. Having a full range of motion is essential to complete daily tasks. Either way, just a small amount of exercise made it easier to accomplish whatever was on the agenda for the day.

If those plans included a workout, you probably found yourself sweating part way through cardio which is another physical change that after being "a hot mess" leads to improving overall health. A personal trainer friend of mine refers to sweat as "happy body tears." The more you shed the happier you will be with the outcome. I like to think of it as toxins leaving the body. As the saying goes, "Out with the old; in with the new." How you looked before is being replaced with a greatly improved version. Depending on fitness goals, this could mean a number of things to different individuals.

Another item that affects physical appearance is that of muscular fatique. Typically, people think of being tired as a bad thing but it can be both negative and positive. Since I want to leave you with a pleasant feeling, I will first discuss the not so pleasant aspect. A muscle that is stressed to its max w/o fuel will usually take a several hours before "hitting a wall" at which point you will feel and/or see grimacing, hunching over, collapsing limbs, etc. which can result in injury. These all lead to the less than pretty images of ultra marathoners or Olympic athletes of which most of you are probably familiar. However, in the less extreme cases of muscular fatigue where appropriate rest occurs, and what most recreational athletes or weekend warriors experience, it creates density, endurance and strength in the muscle belly giving the body a longer, leaner look much more pleasing to the eye. The muscles acquaint themselves with the sensation of being tired and learn to adapt to it so fatique takes longer to set in the next time you exercise. In essence, you become more fit.

Putting this all together, the physical aspects of why exercise is so important is that all of what is listed above contribute to becoming stronger and potentially losing body fat or excess weight and changing one's overall appearance.

In the next installment of Why Exercise...the emotional aspects of why changing one's appearance is beneficial to overall well-being.

Quote of the week "When you feel like quitting, think about why you started."

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