When we are very busy, it is often easy to neglect our workouts. It takes a lot of motivation for one to start and remain in a fitness program- either by exercising on your own or going to the gym.
I will not talk about the obvious here- that is weight gain. Let’s deal with the less obvious thing that unknowing to us, will eat into the quality of our lives.
What happens when you don’t exercise:
If you always seemed to be suffering from the following symptoms, it could be attributed to lack of exercise or physical movement:
1. Lower back pain/sore back
We sit all the time at work, then we come back and sit even more by turning on the television to ‘destress’. Many people find that life is more interesting by watching on what is happening to the rest of the world, the latest movies, celebrity gossip, etc than to have a simple body workout.
If you have a stiff/sore back, you will be surprised at how a bit of stretching and light cardio exercises can relief the symptoms. For instance, the last couple of days, I felt that my back was getting a bit sore because I had missed out on exercising. I was attending a course and spent a number of hours sitting on the floor- which of course is not making the condition better. So, finally All I did was some sun salutation poses that I’ve learned from yoga and some spinal twists- and the symptoms were gone.
Caution: If the back pain is severe, please check with a physician- do not try any exercises because it could be an indication of a back injury/condition that requires medical attention.
2. Stiff shoulders, joints, legs and other parts of the body
If your body is stiff, it is likely that your body is also very inflexible. But you also have to check if your ergonomics are correct, ie is the position of your workstation like the height of your chair and laptop is not too high or low. Stiffness in the body can be greatly reduced by doing stretching exercises.
First thing in the morning when getting up from the bed, try to stretch like a cat. Find time to do some light cardio like a little running on the spot to warm up your muscles. If you don’t warm up the muscles, especially first thing in the morning, you may end up pulling a muscle when you do stretching.
When your body’s stiff and uncomfortable, you really waste more time because you cannot move so fast, and you will probably end up feeling sorry for yourself. That adds up more time, don’t you think so?
3. Feeling tired and sluggish all the time and ‘that lazy feeling’
We tend to feel very lazy, sluggish at times- too lazy to move or get up from the bed. And after meal, we may feel our entire body falling asleep. If we always feel that, it could be an indication of a weak cardiorespiratory system- ie our circulation is not that efficient, and due to that, oxygen is not delivered well to our muscles and organs.
If you have been reading my blog, you will probably roll your eyes at the number of times I keep emphasizing the use of exercise to beat fatigue. Really, you will never know until you try it- and experience for yourself how good it feels when your heart is pumping oxygen rich blood into every inch of your body- because you train it to do so. How to achieve that? You get your heart working harder by doing cardio activities like brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or use the cardio machines.
4. Getting more difficult to lose weight through dieting
Most people who does not manage to find time to exercise will try to diet. If you only diet and do not exercise, your body will get the message that food is scarce. In order to survive, your body will lower its metabolism, ie it will not burn calories so effectively but instead choose to store them as fat for that ‘perceived famine’.
Season dieters may not realize that a lot of time is wasted thinking and craving for food, trying to look for places that does not serve fattening food, going around studying labels to check for fat/sugar content and some, going to slimming centers. If we could only spend about an hour 3 times a week to exercise, we feel good- and through personal experience and those of others, weight is definitely easier to be controlled if the person exercise and diet.
5. Lower threshold on stress, anger and other negative emotions
Have you ever experience the situation when you are feeling down, stressed, lonely or miserable- then somehow you managed to drag your sorry butt to the gym and give yourself a good cardio boost. Perhaps you went out your anger by running like a madman at the treadmill or releasing your tension through Body Jam classes. Or maybe you did some slow yoga. The outcome: after working out some sweat and a good bath, you feel much better.
Suddenly the problem that has been bugging you does not seems to be that big after all.
This is the known benefit of exercise. I know when we are feeling down, generally we are not motivated to workout. I used to hold quite a stressful and demanding job- and I find that sitting or lying down does not make me feel better. After a good workout- either cardio (if I am not too physically tired) or yoga based exercises, I remember feeling better each time.
6. Get hungry very fast- even not long after eating
We may have the general perception that if we workout more, we may feel hungry faster. No doubt, if you are a workout newbie, you may tend to get hungry and crave carbs after a workout. But once you are accustomed to exercising, you would want to get high from exercising than to comfort yourself by stuffing your face.
Being physical active is very effective in regularizing your fluctuating blood sugar levels. Nowadays, many people who are not diagnosed as being diabetic are suffering from what appears to be prediabetic symptoms- blood sugar irregularities. After eating a diet high in sugar/carbohydrate (typical fast food city diet), the abrupt rise in sugar levels in the blood triggers your body to secrete insulin in an attempt to bring down the sugar levels and to send it to the muscles to use. For a physically inactive person, the muscles have no use for the sugar (since the person is not active and thus no need to burn the sugar for calories). If the person is always not active, after a while, the muscles becomes more insensitive to the insulin. So when the sugar levels in the blood does not drop, the pancreas works harder to secrete even more insulin. When too much of insulin runs in the bloodstream, the blood sugar levels may drop suddenly- and our brain may mistaken this for hypoglycemia, ie not enough of sugar. So it signals to us that we need food- so we feel hungry.
When you exercise, your muscles need fuel and will take it from your fat stores, and from your blood sugar and glycogen that are stored in your liver. In the long run, your metabolism is increased and the effects of exercise carries on for hours after your workout. That is why, doctors always advise diabetics to start an exercise program as it has been shown to help tremendously to regularize the blood sugar levels.
Exercise need not be elaborate and time consuming. It is just a matter of changing our perspective and understand the positive effects of exercise- then make time for it. After all, if we can make time for things such as sleeping (we spend about a third of our life sleeping), watching TV, gossiping, shopping, etc, why can’t we make a bit of time for exercising?
If you spend a few days jotting in your journal on what goes on your mind and emotion in minute detail, it may come as a surprise the time we waste because we are not productive because we feel unwell, in discomfort, feeling stressed, etc. A lot of those feelings can be taken away by just investing 10 minutes a day in a good workout. It is just a matter of choice and a shift in our perception.