Habit #2: Fitness (Part 3 of 7)
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. -Mark Twain OR
Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. -Jim Ryan
Fitness isn’t about running marathons or competing in the Ironman Triathlon. It doesn’t have to be an up-at-dawn jog or midnight stir to chug a protein shake. It’s about making enough of the right decisions to feel better physically, emotionally and mentally. Fitness is a lifestyle. Eat the salad and skip the doughnut. Take the stairs and not the elevator. Make the time to make the right decisions to improve the body and the mind.
While most of the common research on fitness remains in the realm of physical benefits, Duke University is conducting research about mental benefits. According to the study, patients suffering from depression were asked to exercise thirty minutes at least three times per week. After four months, 60% of participants who exercised overcame depression without using medication. This equaled the number of patients who used the medicine but did not exercise.
Studies determined that short workouts of only eight minutes could not only improve physically fitness but actually lower sadness, tension and anger. According to Judith Easton, a personal trainer and meditation instructor at Galter Life Center in Chicago, explains an example of the body’s natural release of endorphins from physical activity: “Exercise leads to an increase in energy and to better sleeping patterns, which may also explain why it is so helpful to people with depression. Low energy and poor sleep are common symptoms of depression.”
According to The Harvard Crimson, practicing yoga is actually better for high school students than a basic physical education class. The study divided up Varsity-level students from a suburban Massachusetts high school into a yoga or a physical education class. The students completed a questionnaire at the beginning and the end of their semester to determine levels of resilience, stress, anxiety and anger. Apparently, the levels of the physical education class actually got worse while the yoga group maintained or improved. Yoga is one of the major exercises that truly gives stretching the time it deserves. It allows us to undo knots in muscles and feel more relaxed while smoothing aches and pains. A more relaxed physical body improves the mental state.
Physical fitness an obvious choice to make but is so often overlooked or postponed. The truth is, there is always time to get in shape. Doing jumping jacks in the office can get the blood moving and improve the day. Walk to the store rather than drive. Clean the house more often and kill two birds with one stone. Treat the body well to preserve the mind and work at bringing physical fitness into your lifestyle. Those Ironman competitors had to begin somewhere and it’s never too late to work for a better mind, body and soul.