Our theme this week is making right eating and exercise a habit. The endorphins your body creates in response to exercise are believed to relieve pain; enhance the immune system; reduce stress; and delay the aging process. Therapists also report that patients who exercise regularly simply feel better and are less likely to overeat or abuse alcohol and drugs. There are many ways to stimulate the production of endorphins, but exercise has the added benefit of improving your heart health, general body strength and conditioning. It has been almost two years since that week in 2010 when I decided I just didn't like me or my body very much. The first fifteen months got me back to the weight I was in high school. Then I moved into the next phase of maintaining the weight and improving my physical strength and general body tone - what I call rule #22. During this year I have varied the types of work-outs, but the routine of daily exercise has not varied. I try to do something every day that requires that second shower.
How does this help with developing the exercise habit? Simple - it feels good! The word endorphin is the combing of the short forms of two other words, endogenous and morphine, meaning that it is a morphine like chemical produced from within your own body. In fact, when it was discovered in 1974, research showed that the Endorphins structurally resemble opiates and produce feelings of well-being and happiness. You can read more at LiveStrong.Com and the various sources cited by these Wikipedia and WebMD articles.
There is a reason that most fitness professionals say that your cardiovascular workouts should be at least 20 minutes. It usually takes that long to reach the threshold for that "second wind" effect. When you cross that line your body releases this natural opiate. You feel less pain, making the exercise seem easier. It also helps you relax from the tension of the day. The euphoric feeling gives you a more positive and energizing outlook on life.
The added benefit is that exercise not only increases your energy level, improves heart health, lowers blood pressure, it also reduces body fat, and makes you look fit and healthy. It also helps me buy less expensive clothes. Seriously! When I was wearing those 5X those shirts and 60" pants wardrobe shopping cost a lot of money. Today I can easily find size L shirts that look quite nice over my size 34 jeans, which cost a lot less than my old fat clothes. Think about it - there is a lot less fabric in the smaller size. All of this contribute to me feeling good about the daily habit of exercise.
Maybe you won't lose 26 inches around your waist, or drop more than a 160 pounds. Your results will vary. But feeling better about yourself will be just as powerful for you as it has been for me.
Enjoy! Oh, and drop me a note to let me know how you are doing, okay?
Be sure to eat some breakfast, and take a Clif Bar with you.