Editor’s Note: When it comes to working out and taking care of our bodies, we might think things like that don’t have anything to do with being a follower of Jesus. But we believe that, as Christians, we should be wise stewards of the resources God has given us and one of our foremost resources is our own body! Read on for Audrey’s excellent tips on being intentional to care for our bodies in a way that will help us grow stronger so we can be wise stewards and accomplish our “hard things” for the glory of God.
Most of us know that working out is the right thing to do. But knowing exercise is a good thing and actually exercising consistently are two completely different things! After all, why would we take the time to workout when we are already so busy?
I know some people who love working out—they actually get excited about things like pull up bars and running races! But for me, I have to intentionally motivate myself to workout by thinking about all the benefits of exercise. Perhaps you can relate to my lack of motivation to exercise. If you need that little extra push to get moving, let me share with you some of the benefits of working out and how you can get started today!
The Incredible Benefits of Exercise
According to neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki, “Exercise is the most transformative thing you can do for your brain today.” While there are many benefits to exercise, I’m going to give you the highlights of why Suzuki argues that we should all exercise:
• Exercise gives us increased focus and attention, even when performing a task that is tedious and difficult. It will give us at least two hours of increased attention and focus right after working out.
• Exercise has immediate and long-term positive results. It causes endorphins to be released in our brain, which boosts our mood.
• Exercise boosts our long-term memory by increasing the volume of the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for storing long term memories).
• Exercise is an investment in our future selves. Because it helps boost our memory, exercise can also help protect us from neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
(If you want to learn more about exercise and its impact on the brain, I highly recommend watching Suzuki’s thirteen-minute speech—it is one of my favorite motivations for exercising.)
You don’t need to be a CrossFit Expert
So, do you have to be a marathon runner or a CrossFit expert to reap these benefits? Not at all!
Suzuki recommends exercising three to four times a week for at least thirty minutes each time. The goal is to increase your heart rate and work up a sweat, and Suzuki points out that you can do that through everyday activities, like vacuuming the whole house, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. At my university, I have made a habit of taking the stairs instead of the elevator. This quick exercise always refreshes me, and as an added benefit, I don’t have to wait in line for the elevator.
It’s as Easy as Standing Up
According to the Just Stand project, the average person spends twelve hours a day sitting. Incorporating more standing and less sitting can help correct our posture, boost our health, and holds many of the same benefits as working out. Here’s several things you can do to be more active throughout your day (and not just when you are working out!).
• Try to stand up and move every thirty minutes. (Do not stay glued to your chairs!)
• Try out a standing desk! You may not have a fancy standing desk, but you may have a higher dresser in your room! Or maybe as you’re reading or memorizing vocabulary words you can hold your book and walk around.
• Workout in little spurts throughout the day. My family knows that I run in place in my room throughout the day because they hear me jumping around. These two minute exercise spurts really help me!
• When you’re in a place where you need to be quiet, choose a different workout. I have done push-ups (quietly!) in both my college’s library and during downtime in a dress rehearsal. Sometimes you need to be creative.
Be Patient with Your Body
Some days I either feel too sore from the previous day’s workout to do another intense routine, or maybe I just feel sore from hunching over my computer too much.
Feel free to adjust your workout plan whenever you need a change. Even on days where we don’t feel at our best, there are still little things we can do to stay active!
This thirty-minute easy pilates and cardio workout is one of my favorite routines if I want a good workout, but I also need to give my body a break. This specific routine might be too hard or too easy for your recovery days—find what works best for you. And don’t skip over the warmup and cool down! We should never use being sore as an excuse for not working out—we should be active in some way everyday.
Start working out in your living room or backyard.
I live in Arizona, so I am having to move all my workouts into my living room due to the intense, melt-your-face heat outdoors.
At Hasfit workouts, Husband and wife duo coach Kozack and Claudia provide a wide variety of workouts, from the quick fifteen-minute ones to the hour-long ones, from super intense to warm up. These are some of my favorites—I would even do their fifteen-minute routines after getting home from a long day at school.
Alright, that’s enough talking on my part—now let’s quit making excuses and get up and get moving!
Whether you stand up for a few minutes, do a few planks on your bedroom floor, or head out for a run, everything makes a difference.