Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why I Exercise

Come As You Are
If exercising makes a woman look this relaxed and happy, why wouldn't she do it?

I've already documented how I started working out this time, and the amazing benefits I've found in exercise. But Charlotte (and indirectly MizFit) asked why I exercise; I'm taking this to mean why do I exercise now.

I started explaining why I exercise by writing about how other people react to my still exercising. After all, I have reached my goal weight. I have not reached my goal body composition.. yet they seem to think...Oh wait.. how others react is a completely different post for another day. Let me get back on track.

Why do I exercise?

1. Concentration and focus. After my foot surgery last year, I discovered that cardio exercise clears my head, and lets me focus (anesthesia brain sucks as badly as menopause brain. They are banished with the exercise for me). I can concentrate better and get more work done on the 3-5 hours after a workout than any other time in most days.

2. Mood Control. I suffer from anxiety, depression and insomnia. The chemical changes that occur in my brain when working out, and especially when I'm working hard, temper these moods to the point that I'm not running to the doctor for the next great medication. I take one (atavan or I don't sleep); and I'm hoping that someday this too can be decreased or banished from my medicine drawer.

3. Heart and Brain Health. The only two blood relatives of mine who didn't die of heart disease died of Alzheimer Disease. This is my daily nightmare. Yet most of the recent research shows that the same mechanisms cause both diseases (the individual body becomes more susceptible to one system or the other being attacked). One of the major ways of combating both diseases with a combination of cardio and weight training. Weight training can physically build a strong cardiovascular system and rebuild brain.

I say now that I'm working on my 40 year plan. I make choices daily based on whether they will help me live another 40 years. Exercise is one of the smartest and easiest parts of that decision process.

4. Self-Esteem. I have a crappy self-esteem. Abuse, both emotional and physical, has taken its toll on me. Standing up tall, arms strong and back, and knowing that I don't look like the "typical 55 year old post-menopausal American woman" gives me something I can hang some pride on. And even if I'm not feeling very esteemed.. I damn well LOOK like I do!

5. Something just for myself. When I head to the gym, I'm not going there to please anyone but myself. We ALL need activities that are purely selfish in nature. Things that we do because they center us. I don't care if we're male, female, busy mothers, factory workers or most of these rolled up in one. Exercising for me is "me time." I walk into the gym and close the door on the world.

So, like others, my exercise has little to do with body image issues. (well, except that I want people to admire my arms. Loudly. Publicly. Often.) There are body images involved in this whole thing some of which I hit upon when reading Zandria post about disordered eating. But once again, that's a post for another day.

So I'll pass the question along. Why do you exercise??
I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.