Every January, the gyms all around our Western world are filled with people aspiring to get in shape for the summer – and who wouldn’t want to show off a fit body at the beach? But does that make us happier, or healthier? I’m not saying no, but we shouldn’t jump to that conclusion, either. To be healthy is to take care of your body – and you probably won’t take care of something you don’t appreciate, right? This year, why not skip the “get in shape” part, and jump right to the “take care of my body” part?
Exercise helps prevent heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, joint and muscle diseases, depression and cancer. A recent study also showed that patients suffering from depression can benefit greatly from regular exercise. Maintaining an active lifestyle through life will help you live longer. The recommended amount of exercise is a daily moderate workout of thirty minutes, or a high-intensity workout for sixty minutes three times a week. The definition of “Health-Promoting Exercise” is that it improves your health without hurting your body. Let’s read that again: without hurting your body.
While that sentence is open for interpretation, my take is that exercise is not supposed to be gruelling – if the objective is to be healthy. If you can’t run a marathon, or if you think running is boring, then maybe you shouldn’t. What does your body want and need? What is fun in your mind? Golf? Zumba? Gardening? Or do you like dancing the ugly dance alone? Do it! Just move, and you’ve done what you need to do to be healthy. Everything else is a bonus. If you enjoy going to the gym and do weight-lifting, go! But only if you actually enjoy it. There are so many fun things you miss out on if you spend time doing things you don’t love.
Focus on taking care of your body, instead of whipping it into shape. You will start to appreciate what you have, and you will be healthier and happier about yourself. I’ve tried it the other way around and it only led to a lot of pain and self-loathing. I learned that the hard way, but you don’t have to. Just have fun and move!