Listening To What Your Body Is Telling You

For this post I wanted to highlight the importance of maintaining a healthy balance in being active and resting.  Even though I’ve been riding on and off the fitness bandwagon for almost 20 years, I’m still amazed at how habits influence our mindset and desires.  Over time, I’ve learned to listen to what my body is telling me to and say no at times in order to avoid injuries.

In regards to habits and routines, what I’ve noticed is that when I am not active for a more than a few days my mindset shifts to more negative thoughts on being active.  It’s too much work, I don’t have the time or energy, or let’s save that for tomorrow are thoughts that still permeates my mindset.  I remember back to when I was in the precontemplative stage on making changes to my life.  I had taken years off of any strenuous physical activity.  I was starting to connect the dots in my head that I needed to make positive changes to my lifestyle but the obstacles of being overweight and sedentary seemed too great.  I started with regular walks over lunch and slowly introduced biking, jogging, and strength training.   Over time I noticed the positive benefits and feelings outweighing the negative ones.  Before I knew it I was hooked on establishing a regular routine of being active.

There are times where it feels like being active is contagious and the more you are active the more you look forward to the next activity.  There is a physiological component to this, which is your body’s release of endorphins during physical exercise.  Endorphins triggers a positive response which has been known to reduce symptoms of  anxiety, depression, and stress.  This physiological response is also known as the “runner’s high”.  I often wonder with individuals who are sedentary and suffering the effects of mild anxiety and depression, that what the body may be telling you is that you are lacking some basic physical activity.  I know that when I have a particularly stressful day, being active helps to give me the extra energy and confidence to deal with whatever adversity is facing me.

The second part of this discussion is once you are in tune with what your body is telling you, sometimes the desire for that “runner’s high” can be so great that the pendulum swings the other way from being sedentary to being overly active. It can be hard to stop pushing yourself to achieve new goals in speed, distance, or duration of your physical activity.  But if you don’t be careful, you may end up injuring yourself or burning yourself out.

There have been many times over the last year where I have been engaging in physical activity only to feel something isn’t quite right with my body or a particular muscle group.  Rather than risk injury, I’ve become more in tune with my body and shut the activity down.  For example, just yesterday I had intended on going for a quick 2 mile run in the morning with a goal pace of 9 minutes/mile.  Right away I noticed some soreness in my shins and left knee.  Instead of toughing it out, I slowed my pace down by an extra 2 minutes/mile and only completed one mile before returning home.  Had I felt the soreness was more severe, I would have walked straight home.  Today I feel great and can continue being active because I listened to what my body was telling me.

What is your body telling you?  If you are sedentary and experiencing some mild anxiety or depression, perhaps a little physical activity is the right prescription for you.  As always, please consult with your doctor as this blog is not intended to be providing medical advice.  This has been my personal journey with making positive lifestyle changes.  I hope you have similar success with your path as well.

Until next time, get well!

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