Do you have an unhealthy relationship with exercise?

If you’re one of those people who finds it hard to exercise because the amount you move, is directly linked to how much you are eating, or purely because of the calories you are burning for weight loss then chances are, you don’t really enjoy exercising.  Am I right?

I’m one of those people that has always been into exercise, whether its running, walking, HIIT, riding, swimming, crossfit – you name it, I’ve done it. I have the type of personality where I like to push myself, mentally and physically, which is one of my strengths (a weakness too sometimes!) especially when it comes to maintaining a routine of some sort for exercising. From an early age, I noticed the mental health benefits of exercising and so I stuck with it.  I think clearer, sleep better, am more patient, and it helps with my anxiety prone personality. So when I hear others attribute the amount of exercise they do, to the amount of food they consume – it’s bothering.

I could get on one side of the argument and say that if you wanted to only think of it that way, then you need to remember it isn’t as simple as saying a ‘calorie is a calorie’. All calories are created differently and the simple ‘energy deficit’ approach won’t work for everyone. An energy deficit for one person, is not going to mean the same to another, there are other factors at play such as environment, access to food and of course, biology.

We need to get rid of this old approach towards exercise that has fuelled an unhealthy and unproductuve relationship to moving daily. We need to be more aware that movement daily, is essential for overall health and longevity. Regardless of what we are eating, each and every day you should be moving in one form or another. I don’t mean you need to run 10kms every day or do high intensity training if its not your thing because there are just as many benefits to walking. Did you know that walking for 30 minutes a day reduces your risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad one)?

So, why exercise more? Well, apart from – WHY NOT? Here are some benefits of regular exercise and movement;

  • Exercise helps reduce symtpoms of anxiety and depression (next time you’re feeling a bit low, get outside and go for a walk – your body and mind will thank you for it),
  • Strengthens your bones,
  • Strengthens your muscles,
  • Better balance and coordination,
  • Helps with sleeplessness
  • Increases cardiovascular health (aka strengthens that heart!) and,
  • Increases your energy levels.

I haven’t focussed on weight loss in this post, because I believe there has been too much focus on using exercise only for weight loss. We already know that what we eats accounts for 70% if not more of our success when it comes to weight loss. That old saying, ‘you can’t out-exercise a bad diet’ really reigns true.

When I started to listen to my body more, I started to heal my relationship with not only exercise and food, but myself as well. Instead of trying to fit in strenuous exercise daily, I listened to my body and if that meant I only felt like a walk, then that is what I would do. It also meant that when I felt like HIIT session, I was mentally and physically prepared to smash it out. I became kinder to myself and found that I started to fuel my body better, fuelling my body with foods I knew made me feel more energetic when I needed it for strenuous exercise.

So why don’t you take a different approach? Try to separate exercising and move your body daily because of the range of benefits you will get from doing so. If you aren’t reaching your health goals with your current approach, then you don’t have anything to lose (apart from your unhealthy relationship to exercise and perhaps – a little more weight… I know, I know, I mentioned it).


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