It has been said that laughter is the best medicine. And while I am certainly a strong believer in the healing power of a good guffaw, I am also an athlete who has experienced the spirit lifting, immunity boosting, mind strengthening, long-term results of regular exercise. I might even argue that though laughter is good medicine, exercise is even better.
Here are just a few of the many reasons why exercise is great medicine for your body, mind, and spirit:
Challenge your body, transform your mind. As you engage in aerobic activity, you have an opportunity to transform negative energy into positive and stress into serenity. When you focus on sets, reps, steps, laps and the like, you redirect your thoughts and allow your mind to reset.
An apple activity a day… When you get up and get moving, not only do your muscles and bones benefit, your immune system does too. By increasing your respiration and circulation, bacteria are removed from the lungs more quickly, antibodies travel around at a higher rate, and carcinogens are pushed out of the body through sweat and urine. All of these natural responses support your immune system while it works to protect you.
Build more than muscles. Setting a goal and working toward it naturally boosts confidence. Start with small goals – such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, joining a class at the gym, or dedicating a minimum of 30 minutes to exercise five days out of the week – and build from there. As you set, work toward, and achieve your goals, you can add new challenges (train for a triathlon, perhaps?) and thus, new opportunities to build strength, inside and out.
Don’t just take my word for it; check out this athlete’s account of how training for a triathlon helped him cope with PTSD and addiction or this article on the possible healing powers of exercise. Better yet: get up and tri it for yourself.
This article is in no way intended to be viewed as definitive medical advice. There is obviously an array of conditions that require medical attention from a trained professional. Please consult your doctor for a routine that is right for you.