Exercising For Joy

by Kate Bader

text reads “exercising for joy” on a pink background with an illustration of a woman doing a lunge

While exercise has long been tied to weight loss and impossible beauty standards, there is a movement to reframe working out.

Given its health benefits, we should reframe the value of movement, as something that can do much more than sculpting our appearance but can also increase concentration, energy, excitement, and pleasure. From mental health to sex drive, to skin-boosting, exercise is insanely beneficial. Here’s why I’m calling on folks to embrace physical activity outside of a weight loss framework:

  1. Natural Depression Rx. Physical movement helps ward off depression. There’s nothing quite like that feeling after finishing a workout class. After dance, I feel euphoric, like I could do anything. While it’s not a replacement for medication, exercise could be advantageous to use in addition to medication or to manage mild depression.
  2. Mental Longevity Boost. Exercise keeps you young mentally. The increased circulation can actually build new brain cells.
  3. Stop Thinking. I’m a chronic overthinker, and moving more helps me feel “well” (for lack of a better term), because it allows me to use my brain in a different way, wherein I think less. Certain activities, like sports and dancing, don’t allow you to spend time stuck in thoughts at all. It’s like shaking up your mind and clearing out the dust.
  4. Strengthen Bones. Weight-bearing exercise helps strengthens bones, decreasing the risk of developing osteoporosis in future decades.
  5. Better Sleep. Exercise is hands down the best thing I’ve ever used to improve my sleep and battle insomnia. It helps me fall asleep faster, and experience deeper sleep. It won’t help with all types of insomnia, but if you’re anxiety-prone or tend to think a lot, it can be helpful to exercise hours before bed.
  6. Better Bowel Movements. Working out helps increase the motility of the colon. And, issues like depression can sometimes have a bodily cause. Having slow digestion, low blood pressure, etc. can contribute to a body that feels tired, and feeling sluggish or sad. A slow(er) metabolism or state of being can be modulated with more exercise.
  7. Disease Prevention. Exercise helps ward off the majority of diseases. Increasing circulation throughout your body naturally, on a regular basis, helps carry oxygen and nutrients more effectively, for starters.
  8. Glowing Skin. Skincare routine, watch out: Breaking a sweat is one of the best ways to nourish your skin.
  9. More Confidence In Yourself. Taking care of yourself strengthens the relationship you have with yourself. Exercising can be a form of investing in your own wellness, and when we show up for ourselves in the ways we want to, and the ways that ultimately feel good, we learn to trust ourselves more.
  10. Better Sex Life. Better stamina during your spin class can translate to better stamina in the bedroom too. Additionally, improving blood flow with exercise promotes arousal.

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