I remember when I had loads of exams and was studying hours and hours, sometimes late into the night. You might say that’s not struggle, and not an obstacle. Not as adults have, no. As adults we would say that, only because we forget how difficult it was when were there.
I was there, not long ago, and I remember the pressure I was under at that moment in life, and how important it was for me to do well, after all the work I put into it.
I also remember my mother asking me to go to my karate class. I didn’t want to, because of so much work. Yet, my mum would insist that a mind under tension will not be productive.
So I would reluctantly take a few good hours out of my evening, 3-4 hours sometimes with travelling, and go to my karate classes.
The reality is that after training I would have more energy, a more clear mind and a spring in my step. I would learn, memorize and analyse (whatever I needed to do) faster and easier. I would finish in a couple of hours the amount of work I normally did in 3, maybe even 4 hours. I would also get better grades, because my mind and body were more relaxed, fit and strong as a results of physical exercise.
This is an example since my student years. But, make no mistake, even today, when I take long walks, go for a run or Karate training, I am much more productive coming back with a clear mind, ready to make the necessary decisions for my business and life.
Exercise, whether indoors, outdoors or in the form of sports will:
- Reduce stress.
- Alleviate symptoms of depression. In fact, as an exercise referral instructor I work with people who suffer from depression and one of the best ways to alleviate symptoms is exercising.
- Boost happiness, releasing the “feel good hormones”: endorphins, dopamine and serotonin as the most popular.
- Reduce aches and pains throughout the body. Exercise is difficult at the moment you do it but after, you feel marvellous. And over time it gets even better.
- Reduces risks of certain health condititions. According to the NHS these include:
- up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke]up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
- up to a 30% lower risk of depression
- a 30% lower risk of early death
- up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
- up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer, and more…
Look, the truth is your body was designed to move. Why do you think you have so many joints and muscles? They’re not for decoration. You were born and designed to move.
And when you don’t, systems fall out of place. No, your toes won’t fall off. I mean the 3 systems, or reactions taking place in your body at all times: physical, mental and chemical.
Once one system is imbalanced, it will create imbalances in other systems as well. And this is true for mental and physical processes.
Let’s take a mild foot injury for example. There are 2 immediate actions you can take when you experience a foot injury:
- Keep walking
- Stay in bed and be inactive
- If you keep active, running and walking, you will inevitably compensate. You will use the healthier side of the body more. However the body is designed in such a way that each component has its job to do, and taking the job of another component for too long will leads to overuse and wear.
- Being inactive will weaken your body, and keep you in an unhealthy loop. Once you lose momentum it’s difficult to regain it.
Same goes for mental processes. Stress is the cause of many health conditions, besides the physical tension which leads to generally negative and unhealthy feeling.
How are you supposed to be at your best if you are not in your best shape, mentally and physically.
The reality is that exercise and sports will keep you sane in this chaotic world (quote me on that), and will help you have a more clear, shaper mind and way of thinking.
With a clear mind, less stress and worries, comes the ability to overcome obstacles and struggles in life more effectively.
What type of exercise should you do
Look, you can practice Karate, rock climbing, cross fit and whatever you like doing. Walking is probably the easiest way to meditate and contemplate. So is running.
But if you don’t have time and the equipment, just walk home from work, walk to the supermarket, walk everywhere. “I don’t have time” is not an excuse. Many people who don’t have a care “make” the time.
This is not the topic of this article, however I will leave you with this: we all have the same 24 hours in a day, you make time for the things that matter most in your life.