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The Best Reasons for Working Out

Polly Pitchford - Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mid-way through a recent group exercise class, the teacher lost me.  She didn’t lose me because of some complicated step sequence or insanely long set of burpees; I mentally checked out because of a few words she kept saying over and over.  “Come on!  Get that body ready for the beach!  Think about how you want to look at those holiday parties!  PICTURE HOW YOU’LL LOOK IN THAT DRESS!

THAT DRESS?”  My brain couldn’t focus on an image of some random dress hanging in my closet.  And when it comes to exercise I see it as a joy, and not a utility…as a gift, and not a chore…as an opportunity, not an obligation.  I do it for the love of it, not to fit into a dress.  When I work out and move my body it’s because…

  1. .    Strength equals self-sufficiency.  Being strong – particularly as a woman – is empowering.  It feels great to be able to heft your own luggage into the trunk, and it’s important to have a solid shot at outrunning a stranger should you meet one a dark alley.
  2. .    Fitness opens doors.  Being healthy and fit can help you see the world differently.  The planet looks different from a bike than it does from a car.  Out in the elements you have the time and space to notice details and meet people and remember smells and rain and the feeling of warm sunshine on your face. 
  3. .    Exercise is a lifestyle, not an event.  Being an active person isn’t about taking a class three times a week at the gym.  It’s about things like biking to the grocery store and parking your car in the back of the lot and walking instead of taking a cab and catching up with friends on a hiking trail instead of a bar stool.
  4. .    Health begets health.  Healthy behavior inspires healthy behavior.  Exercise.  Healthy eating.  Solid sleep.  Positive relationships.  These things are all related.
  5. .    Endorphins help you cope.  A good sweat session can clear the slate.  You will have days when nothing seems to go right…when you’re dizzy with frustration or crying in despair.  A workout often turns those things around.
  6. .    Working out signals hard-working.  The discipline required to work out on a regular basis signals success.  Someone recently told me they are way more likely to hire marathon runners and mountain climbers because of the level of commitment that goes into those pursuits.
  7. .    If you feel beautiful, you look beautiful.  Looking beautiful starts on the inside.  And being fit and strong feels beautiful.
  8. .    Nature rules.  And if you’re able to hike/run/bike/swim/ski, you can see more of it.

It’s ok to kick it a little harder and burn off a few extra calories in order to fit into “that dress” but that is the least important reason for why I work out.  


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