Exercise has all sorts of benefits. You already know it increases your energy, improves your health and is the number one thing you can do to extend your life. But have you ever considered what exercise can teach you about life? Once you get hooked on exercise, and commit to it routinely, you are learning valuable life principles and traits that can improve your life outside of exercise.
You can do what you thought you couldn’t. There are all sorts of great couch to 5k programs out there—beginner runner programs that get people who were once leading sedentary lives, off the couch to train for their first 5k run. Getting people to exercise who didn’t before, is wonderful, but these programs have another great benefit. People learn they can do what they thought they couldn’t do. Many people who have never gone jogging before tell themselves they can’t jog. They tell themselves they are too out of shape or they can’t imagine ever running a mile. Negative thinking keeps people on the couch. Couch to 5k programs take that “I can’t” thinking and turn it to “I can” with baby steps, mixing walking and jogging until you find yourself running your first 5k. When you do something you have never done before, your mind begins to open up and you wonder what else you might be able to achieve. Any new exercise class or form of exercise can teach you the same thing. You can do what you thought you couldn’t. And that’s empowering. What would your life look like if you tried other things you think you can’t do?
You can change. When you set a goal and lose weight, you discover that your actions and decisions lead to results. Like many people, you may have started off thinking you will never lose weight. It’s too hard. It takes too long. But when you really commit to exercise and eating healthier, you see results. Losing weight teaches us that our decisions matter. It also teaches us we are capable of creating change in our lives. Life isn’t what happens to you. Your life is what you choose to create. What other positive change can you create in your life?
You show up. How many people get caught up in excuses and justifications for not exercising? I am too busy. My job takes up too much of my day. I have kids who need all of my time and there’s no time left in the day to exercise. I am tired at the end of the day and can’t get myself to exercise. I have heard it all. I know it’s challenging to squeeze everything you have to do into a day. I understand. But, if you decide to be different, and to show up for exercise every day, you are not only investing in your health, you are also accountable and reliable. You are telling yourself that your health matters. You do what you say you are going to do. Knowing you can count on yourself is big. It boosts your confidence and is personally rewarding. If you invest more time in coming up with creative time management solutions for your life than you do in a cycle of excuses, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. In what other areas of your life can you benefit from showing up?
Related: 17 Excuses Why You Skip Exercise
You can hit big goals. Whether your goal is a 10lb weight loss, to run a 5k or to improve your numbers at the doctor’s office, exercise teaches us that we can achieve big goals. Most exercise goals—whether improving your fitness or your body—happen because of decisions you make daily. Those small decisions add up to big results. The reason more people don’t see the results they want is because they want overnight success. They want a quick fix, because quick fixes are easier than having to consistently wake up and decide to exercise. People who are willing to go the distance and take stair steps to their health are the ones who see lasting results. They wake up and say, what can I do today for my health? And they know that three months from now, that daily decision will meet a bigger goal of health and fitness. They also learn they can meet other goals this way too. One of the main reasons people often have trouble with big goals is because those goals seems so far away. Achieving big goals can seem overwhelming or insurmountable, so you don’t begin. The number one principle to tackle big goals is to break them down into smaller, manageable, bite-sized goals that ultimately lead to achieving the big goal. Small steps take away the feeling of being overwhelmed, so you get started. Review your goals. Think in terms of what you can accomplish today. What goals could you achieve if you broke them down into smaller steps?
As you exercise each day, pay attention to what you are discovering about yourself. Exercise can be so much more than the cardio workout you need—it can teach you valuable life principles as a conduit for your potential.