Make Your Fitness Routine A Healthy Part Of Self-Care
When some of us hear the word self-care, it’s easily equated with other less positive words that include “self,” such as selfish or self-indulgent. The truth is, though, self-care is anything but. Activities that help you refresh, boost your motivation and allow for personal growth should all be part of your personal self-care plan.
According to the psychological experts at GoodTherapy.org, a comprehensive self-care initiative requires developing habits in three primary areas: 1) physical well being, 2) mental and emotional health, and 3) spiritual awareness. This means finding time for exercising and eating healthy to improve your physical condition. Learning ways to cope with stress and anxiety or learning ways to be more empathetic and kind to feel stronger emotionally and mentally. And, whether you’re religious or not, you can find ways to be spiritual other than praying. Spirituality can mean connecting with people that share the same traditions or values, or even simple meditation.
Finding it a lot to take in? Well, there’s actually a great way to tackle several aspects of self-care with one simple addition, and that’s making physical fitness part of your regular routine.
Why? Because physical fitness won’t just give you get a leg up on the physical component of self-care. A good exercise program will also help you focus on your mental health as well as your spirituality.
Exercise and Physical Health
One of the benefits people correlate most often with physical fitness is improved health, and it’s surely a good reason to get started. But did you know all the ways a routine workout program can improve your health? Here are some pretty amazing perks.
The American Heart Association reports that exercising improves your blood flow which reduces your risk of heart disease.
It improves your weight management efforts.
Being physically active reduces your risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to American Diabetes Association.
Exercise can boost your body’s immune system.
A physical fitness routine can reduce the symptoms associated with chronic pain.
Exercise and Mental Health
A regular fitness routine is also linked to improvement in mental health conditions. If you’re suffering with depression or addiction, for example, exercise is scientifically proven to help. According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry in 2011, individuals who engage in routine fitness are less likely to use and abuse drugs.
This is believed to work in a number of ways.
Exercising releases endorphins, which create a natural high by altering our brain chemistry.
When you’re active and moving, your outlook on life improves.
Exercising will reduce stress, which can lead to drug use or relapses.
Getting active can lead to improved self-care across the other categories, which reduces addiction behavior.
Remember, though, when adding exercise to your routine it’s important that you don’t overdo it.
Too much exercise can lead to physical problems as well as mental problems. Learn the signs that indicate your body and mind have had enough. And remember, it won’t be healthy to replace one addiction with another.
Exercise and Spirituality
There are a number of ways that physical fitness leads to better spirituality.
It can improve self-control. By keeping focused on positive activities, you’re leaving less time for your mind to be idle. Idle time can lead to temptation and self-destructive behavior.
It gives you a feeling of accomplishment. When you can be in control of things in your life and accomplish things successfully, you’ll have a more positive outlook on life.
It leads to conscientious thinking. Did you know yoga means "union with God?” Practicing yoga can help you be more conscious of your connection with His spirit.
Mindful practices, like meditation are good for your soul, and your brain.
Remember, self-care isn’t selfish. Instead, it is an essential part of a healthy mind and body. By taking time to incorporate a comprehensive approach to self-care, you’ll be committing to a great word utilizing “self” - positive self-esteem!
By: Sheila Olson
Sheila Olson has been a personal trainer for five years. She believes the best way to achieve physical fitness and good health is to set and tackle small goals. She encourages her clients to stay positive and incorporates mindfulness and practices for reducing negative talk into her sessions. She created FitSheila.com to spread the word about her fitness philosophy.