Why physical activity?

I try to be fit because it makes me feel good. Losing weight isn’t one of my goals with physical activity, although I wouldn’t mind losing a few pounds. The most current research (which could eventually be proven wrong) appears to indicate that we cannot lose weight through exercise and that we must cut calories .

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Since losing weight is not likely to happen, my exercise goals are mental health related. I want to feel positive and being fit allows me to do that through the endorphin hit at the end of a run or hike or gym session. I focus on that feeling and try to carry it with me, especially when I’m feeling down. Actually what I should write there is when I’m feeling depressed because activity keeps depression from winning.

I have battled depression most of my life. I knew when I was teenager I was experiencing depression but I didn’t want to go to counselling. Talking to people I loved and trusted was difficult. Counselling wasn’t going to happen.

When I read an article saying research had shown exercise to be helpful in dealing with depression, I latched onto it, and I have never let go. I found that my emotional states were less roller coaster-ish and that I could deal with negative emotions much better. I was hooked!

I know when I haven’t been exercising because the depression starts to creep back. As soon as I feel it, I start something, whether it’s weightlifting, walking, running, or cycling. It takes a week for me to get the small high that gives me a bright spot in the day. After a few weeks, that high (by which I mean, return to even keel normality) stays around for a few hours. Once exercise is a routine, I find my depression almost all gone.

This is of course only my experience as everyone experiences different levels of depression. This is only offered as an insight into why physical activity is important to me and me alone.

What is your reason for being physically active?

Be kind to yourself.