Exercising for Mind, Body, and Spirit

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“Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness.”  – Earl of Derby

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” – John F. Kennedy

“It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor.” – Cicero

I have been exercising regularly for so many years, it has become part of my daily routine—much like brushing my teeth and showering. Not only do I feel better during and after my workouts, but I also get to enjoy many long-term benefits that will hopefully improve my quality of life—physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Most of us commit to an exercise program with the hopes of losing weight, gaining muscle, becoming stronger, more flexible, more toned, etc. Point is, we focus on the physical outcomes of getting physical. And while reducing body fat, strengthening and building bones, improving muscle tone and strength, boosting immunity, and slashing our risks for many types of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension are reasons enough to get our hearts pumping, exercise is just as instrumental in improving our cognitive, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.

Physical activity increases blood flow to our brains as well as nutrient delivery to our cells and tissues. This means that our organs are more likely to be receiving the essential vitamins, minerals, and hormones responsible for maintaining a healthy and happy body—inside and out. As a result, our thinking is sharper and clearer, there is a reduction in anxiety and stress, our energy levels increase, and we experience an improvement in our moods. The benefits of exercise are so powerful, it is often used as a “prescription” of sorts in helping relieve symptoms of depression.

And although exercise will help you look better, there is nothing more attractive than someone wearing confidence. Guess what? Exercise boosts self-esteem and helps create a sense of accomplishment. How’s that for being beautiful inside and out? And probably the best part of all is that exercise is available to essentially everyone, regardless of age, experience, socioeconomic status, or those with time constraints. It is as easy as walking five minutes, taking the stairs, parking further from your destination, jumping jacks and doing squats in your office every hour for two minutes, or walking to a coworker’s office instead of sending out an email.

For those looking for more guidance and motivation to get them moving, there is a plethora of options, including gyms, bootcamp classes, crossfit groups, cycling or running clubs, yoga studios, recreational sports, boxing gyms, workout DVDs, and online videos for home use, and phone apps. If you are looking for quick inspiration, you can always visit online fitness websites or blogs or borrow some of Pinterest’s ideas for a workout you can fit in nearly anywhere and anytime.

If you are interested in reaping the many benefits of physical activity, let go of the all-or-nothing mantra (i.e., “if I can’t exercise for at least 30 minutes, I might as well skip”; “I ate too much dessert, might as well go all out today”), and relish the immediate effects of moving your body, all while quieting your mind with the awareness that every little bit counts and even small amounts add up to major improvements in overall wellness. And if you are feeling particularly disconnected from your mind and body, take your workout outdoors and enjoy how you move alongside nature, as open-air environments help reduce tension, anxiety, and depression. And please let go of any guilt about taking the time out for yourself—exercising should be part of your self-care and nourishment routine, equally as essential as sleeping, eating, and feeding your soul. So get your move on and enjoy the benefits now AND later—your mind, body, and soul will thank you!

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About Author

Dr. Dana Shafir

Dana Shafir, Ph.D., LPC, completed the Health Coach Training Program through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and owns and operates Dana Shafir Wellness. Dana serves as the Resident Nutritionist for Strategy Magazine. Learn more at www.Danashafirwellness.com, or follow her on Facebook or @doctordshafir on Twitter.

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