This is Day 161 of the Green in 365 series!
Last week we talked about establishing a consistent exercise routine, and today I want to talk about the benefits that I have enjoyed from running on a regular basis to train for a half-marathon.
5 Benefits of Consistent Exercise
1. Alone, quiet time
This is far and away one of the biggest benefits to me. When you are a mama of three littles, there’s not a lot of quiet in your life. When I run, I go by myself and usually without any music, and it has become my place of peace and quiet in the midst of all the craziness and chaos.
I know this won’t be true for everyone, but even as an extrovert, I love to spend my time running just in my own head and thoughts. I use the time to think about things in my life – I go over my goals, write blog posts in my mind (like this one!), pray, and even spend time grieving my father. Which is sometimes a little hard and awkward when I’m crying as I run and I can’t breathe very well and I’m passing other people running or on bikes, but running has become a safe place for me to face and experience my grief.
Every once and a while I’ll listen to a podcast, or some music, and then it’s still a great time to just get away from the craziness of life and kind of re-center and regroup for myself and for my family.
2. Weight Loss
Although I didn’t lose quite as much weight as I was hoping to in training for this race, I have lost right around 15 lbs. since I started training back in January, which I’m not sure I would have lost otherwise. It was baby weight, left over from my third pregnancy, but it was holding on tight – I was 6 months postpartum when I started training, and had only lost about 10 lbs during that time, after the initial weight loss of giving birth.
I’m hoping that keeping up with consistent exercise over the next few months will help me to lose the last 5-7 lbs of baby weight, now that I am one year post-partum!
3. More Energy
Even though I just ran 13.1 miles, I wouldn’t say that I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life. But at the same time, that distance is no small feat. I know that my heart and lungs are in good shape, I can play tag with my kids in the backyard (but they are already so fast and can outrun me!), and I have more energy to do the things I need to do throughout my day.
I know when you’re tired, the last thing that you want to do is exercise. And you may feel like if you spend energy exercising you won’t have any left over to take care of your kids or your home. But, actually the opposite is true; the more you exercise and are consistent in it, the more energy you will have and the better you will feel!
4. Better Sleep
I’m still in the stage of waking up at least once a night with my baby, and I go to sleep later than my kids and wake up earlier so that I can have time to work and get things done, so sleep is at a premium these days. So, consistent exercise helps me to get better sleep. I sleep more deeply and soundly when I am asleep, and my body is tired at the end of the day, which forces me to go to sleep instead of staying up later than I should (most of the time!).
5. A Sense of Well-Being
From the time that I began running, until now, I can honestly say that I just feel better. For all of the reasons above, as well as the physiological benefits of increased endorphins and serotonin levels, and the psychological benefits of working toward and achieving my goal of running and finishing the half-marathon, my consistent training over the past several months has made an impact on my mood and sense of well-being.
I had been struggling with feelings of depression and grief, as well as feelings of being overwhelmed, and while those feelings are not completely gone, I do believe that regular exercise has helped me to feel better overall, and helped me to have fewer and fewer episodes of those types of feelings. Like I said last week, I’ve gotten to the point where I actually crave going running, because of the way it makes me feel, and I know that I feel better the more regularly that I am running.
So, even though I completed my race a week and a half ago, I’m still going to continue to run on a regular basis, and keep up with this foundation of exercise that I have built. I’m not sure when it will be, but I’m looking forward to running more races in the future, and possibly even completing a half-marathon again! Maybe I’ll even get competitive with myself and try to get a better time! Considering my goal this time around was just to finish, that shouldn’t be too hard!
What’s one of your favorite benefits of consistent exercise, or which of these could you see yourself benefiting the most from?
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