3 ways exercise strengthens your spirit

You’ve heard it before: Your body is a temple.

You’ve heard it before: Your body is a temple. That may sound cliché these days, but it’s true. When you take care of your body, you take care of your soul. Consider how exercise improves the health of your soul:

1. Exercise clears the mind.

It relieves stress by pushing out worries and anxiety, allowing you to work through problems, find solutions and make decisions that are weighing on you. Exercise also can break obsessive thought patterns. When your mind is clear, you are more at peace. And when you are at peace, your soul is happy.

“There’s a scientific explanation for this that has to do with improved blood and oxygen circulation to the brain thanks to exercise,” said Dan Delph, marathon trainer and coordinator of sports events for Norton Healthcare. “Research also links exercise to enhanced mental capacity in the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.”

2. Exercise boosts self-esteem,

not just through weight management but because it requires self-motivation to meet goals and overcome challenges. Pushing yourself to meet a difficult fitness goal makes you feel good. Feeling good about what you’ve accomplished and who you are makes it easier to accept yourself and be authentic. When you are authentic, your soul is happy.

“Especially during endurance runs, my mind will tell me to stop and I have to find it within myself to push through those thoughts and self-doubt, and not give up,” Delph said. “This strengthens your mind, and that feels good.”

3. Exercise improves mood.

When you exercise, the body releases endorphins, a “feelgood” chemical. Endorphins counteract feelings of depression or negativity. When you have a positive attitude, you are happy. And when you are happy, your soul is happy.

Tips for making exercise a daily habit

  • Set aside time in your schedule, every day. Put exercise time on your calendar, and don’t cancel it. This is your time to take care of yourself, so make it a priority.
  • Do activities you enjoy. You’re more likely to stay with a fitness program you like than one you dread. Don’t worry about what you think you should be doing, do what you find fun.
  • Find a buddy or group. You’re also more likely to stick with an activity if you do it with a friend or in a social setting. Join a hiking club. Do Zumba with a friend. This can motivate you on days you don’t feel like exercising, and it’s just more fun together.
  • Can’t find a friend or group to exercise with? Work with a trainer.  A trainer will ensure you are exercising correctly and can help you achieve your fitness goals. Plus, they hold you accountable to do the work.
  • Change it up. Vary your program often. Take different classes at the gym. Swim Monday and Wednesday mornings, and go to yoga Thursday afternoon. Cross-training averts boredom and works different parts of your body.
  • Be creative. Try to “cross-train” as much as possible so you don’t get bored with one activity. This also works different parts of the body. If you can’t change up classes or workouts, try getting creative: Park your car several blocks from your destination. Skip the elevator for the stairs. Exercise during commercial breaks when you watch TV.

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