Updated: Feb 7
With so much to do in your everyday life, it is easy to forget about taking care of yourself. This can lead to high levels of stress, but fortunately, there are endless self-care activities you can take up, including fitness.
Benefits of fitness as a self-care tool
Simply defined, fitness is a state of the body to be healthy and function optimally. Exercise is a key component in fitness, and it offers you numerous benefits mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Exercising helps your body to become strong, agile and flexible. It promotes cardiovascular and respiratory health. Research shows that it is an effective tool for maintaining a healthy weight, therefore reducing the risk of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension, among others. When you are physically fit, you are able to perform your daily physical tasks well.
Exercising promotes the production of feel-good hormones and suppresses stress hormones. It improves your mood and increases happiness. People who exercise regularly report an increased sense of achievement, better body image and improved confidence levels. Mentally, it improves your cognitive abilities. You gain mental clarity, alertness and focus.
The benefits of working out also play a pivotal role in promoting self-healing among people in addiction recovery. It improves blood circulation, which is essential in helping the body get rid of toxins. The increased production of endorphins gives you a natural high and reduces the urge to indulge in drugs to feel good.
How to incorporate fitness into your self-care routine
1. Find an exercise you enjoy
There are many types of activities you can choose from, including swimming, yoga, walking, running, jogging, weightlifting, boxing, hiking, aerobics, dance, Pilates and many more. You could set up a home gym or enroll at a local gym. Try out different exercises to determine which ones you can incorporate into a fitness regimen.
2. Exercise regularly
How often you should exercise depends on your goal, level of fitness and schedule. It can range from 20 minutes up to 90 minutes per day, but experts recommend 20-30 minutes of exercise at least three days a week.
3. Observe self-care in your fitness routine
Some people believe that if you are not pushing your body beyond its capacity, you are not doing enough exercise. On the contrary, over-tasking the body can lead to injuries and cause you to give up on your healthy routine. Build up gradually on your intensity and frequency.
Be sure to get enough rest by taking rest days, and incorporate slow-paced, low-intensity and low-impact exercises into your routine. Warm up and cool down adequately for every session, and set aside a calming, quiet space in your home where you can relax, stretch and even meditate after a grueling workout session. Schedule some massage sessions to help ease muscle tension and reduce stress on the nervous system. Listen to your body: On days that your energy levels are low, go for an exercise that is less tasking.
4. Eat Healthily
Exercise and nutrition go hand in hand. Food fuels your body and provides it with essential nutrients for it to function properly. While there are many diet plans and nutrition guidelines, the core of eating healthy is consuming nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods in moderation. Reduce your consumption of refined sugars, processed carbohydrates and unhealthy fats, and drink plenty of water, about eight glasses daily.
Fitness is one of the many self-care tools for cultivating a happier and healthier mind, body and spirit. You can incorporate it into other self-care practices to create a routine that keeps you vibrant and improves the quality of your life.
Article contributed by Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com
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