I’m raising the torch for exercise. I’ll even throw an Olympic gold medal on the thing. Is there any reason not to love it?

Exercise is how the body stays fit and healthy. It’s also one of the ways the mind stays fit and healthy. Incorporating some type of physical activity (a.k.a. exercise) into your daily routine is a must.

I wouldn’t call myself an athlete, but I stay fairly active. I like to challenge my body and see what it can do (when I put my mind to it), especially in my yoga practice, spin class and trail hikes. Aside from that, I aim to get a 45-minute, brisk, aerobic walk in daily.

Right now, I’m enrolled in a 2-week intense bootcamp program that’s kicking my ass…and I love every gritty second.

If you, too, made the new year’s resolution to get fit, good for you. When you set that goal, you probably weren’t even aware of all the side effects that decision would have on your entire life. More on that in a second.

For those of you who are anti-exercise, what’s your reasoning?

If it’s because you think sweating is for losers, let’s turn it around and consider the opposite. Let’s consider a life without exercise:

– Your sedentary lifestyle leads to stiffness in joints, poor mobility in neck, hips and knees. Enter arthritis and osteoporosis.

– With all that belly fat, you feel like a couch potato, and you look like a couch potato.

– You’re prone to depression because inertia, boredom and monotony cause despondent moods, high anxiety and low self-esteem.

– You’re not releasing endorphins, which means you’re missing out on the euphoria after a workout.

A life without heart-pumping movement is a blocked life. Blocked from peace, happiness and overall quality of experience.

Whatever stands in the way of exercising, be it laziness, fatigue, aversion or exhaustion, is also in the way of treating your body well and staying in good health.

Wikipedia says,

People that sit still more than 4 hours per day have a 40% higher risk [of chronic disease] than those that sit fewer than 4 hours per day. However, those that exercise at least 4 hours per week are as healthy as those that sit fewer than 4 hours per day.

When the motivation to get moving is blocked, you’re dealing with mental clutter taking shape as:

  • Stress
  • Low self-confidence
  • Negative body image
  • Discouragement

Not to mention the self-sabotaging chatter that must be going on between your ears.

Then, that mental clutter gives way to brain and body clutter in the form of:

  • Headaches
  • Increased blood sugar levels (courtesy of elevated cortisol levels)
  • Weight gain (courtesy of elevated cortisol levels)
  • Disease

The clutter cycle. You’ll have to break it somehow…

Exercise and the Mind

Does being physically fit help to declutter our minds?

The quick answer, yes.

What you do for the body, you do for the mind.

Exercise declutters the mind (and brain) by:

  • increasing self-confidence and self-esteem
  • regulating the mood
  • slowing the aging of the brain
  • priming the brain to learn new information
  • improving cognitive performance
  • easing stress
  • lowering anxiety
  • fighting depression
  • reducing headaches and migraines
  • increasing focus and concentration
  • improving short- and long-term memory
  • lowers risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s

So that new year’s resolution to get physically fit is actually a stride toward mental health, too. Who knew?!

But, wait, there’s more! The countless holistic benefits! Exercise also:

  • detoxifies
  • increases productivity
  • curbs an unhealthy appetite
  • boosts creativity
  • regulates hormones
  • strengthens your heart
  • increases energy levels
  • lowers blood pressure
  • Improves muscle strength
  • builds bones

It’s not about how you look in clothes, it’s about how you feel in them! And haven’t you noticed that even after one session of cardio or weight training you feel amazing when you go to shower and get dressed. It’s magic.

When we feel fit, or nourished by movement and oxygen, our self-image gets a boost. We start to see ourselves with kinder eyes, and we grow in respect for our bodies. The mind comes to believe that we look good! And so we do. What the mind believes…

A mind that sees beauty in the body is a decluttered mind.

The body continues to benefit from this positive image we have of ourselves, and we get improved bodily functioning in growth, digestion and healing. Joints, tissue, organs, cells, all working in harmoniously together.

The brain and body are tools of the mind. When you serve the brain and body, you are serving the mind.

Clear cognitive functioning is yet another decluttering effect of exercise. It amounts to improved learning capabilities, memory retention and better concentration.

Bonus: the increased concentration and focus honed through exercise helps us during meditation. Exercise can be considered moving meditation. It’s the essential sidekick to sitting meditation.

Get Moving

Everything in moderation. Balance exercise with rest. (The rest part will come easily, as better sleep is our reward after a good workout.)

So are you convinced? Are you ready to start exercising?

Your choices are endless! You could try:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Running
  • Stairs
  • Cycling
  • Mountain climbing
  • Mountain biking
  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Golfing (without a cart)
  • Dancing
  • Zumba
  • Aerobics
  • Gardening
  • Decluttering 😉

…to name a few. If nothing else, start with moderate activity, swinging those arms and bending those legs.

Find something that excites you and motivates you to try it at least once.

If it’s not enjoyable, don’t do it. (You won’t do it for long, put it that way.) If you do anything and begrudge it the whole time, that’s just more clutter buildup. Who needs that? We’re trying to declutter here.

If you want a gym buddy, find one at the gym! Set yourself up for success. If you aren’t already going to the gym, don’t ask someone who’s also not going to the gym to be your accountability partner.

If you want to exercise, go exercise. Don’t let anything stop you. And when you finally do it, you’ll reap the rewards, physically and mentally.

Turns out, exercise is another great way to get clear.

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