Why Exercise is Good for More Than Just the Body
My Personal Experience: Looking for a Release
Back in my high school days, I spent the majority of my time being carefree by playing videogames (to the point of addiction) and barely getting through classes with the least effort required. But I was happy with that lifestyle, so I have no regrets.
When I started college however, I decided to cut off games and focus my energy into school and a social life. It was difficult, and I was in a new country, making things very stressful for me.
Many people have different methods of keeping the stress away, whether that be weekend drinking, golf, solving Rubik’s Cubes…the list goes on. I was already a very skinny, out of shape guy, so I decided to try exercise – and I found exercise to incredible for aiding my mental health.
What Weightlifting Does for Me
Weightlifting is time dedicated to me. There’s nothing better than pushing oneself to physical exhaustion and peace of mind on a daily basis. I find myself completely at ease in the gym, as it is my temple and home away from home.
When I worked at a fast food restaurant, I’d often have terrible days but I always looked forward to my gym time. Some of my best workouts were on my worst days.
I think the reason exercise is so effective for finding mental peace is because it’s similar to meditation. One is able to completely forget about their life and focus entirely on the task at hand.
For meditation, it’s typically focusing on breathing, and for my weightlifting, I think about how many more repetitions I have before I can re-rack the weight. It’s so simple, yet so satisfying.
Weightlifting isn’t for everyone, and for those people, I would recommend some other variant of exercise.
Yoga is popular for this exact reason, and those who do yoga are often in a very relaxed state after their session.
Another exercise I like is rock climbing. I climb at an indoor gym, and I’m able to completely focus on where my feet are, how I can balance myself on the holds, and reach for the next holds. I’m not thinking about my grades, job, or friends: just my own body.
Some people like to go running for mental health, but I personally find myself thinking about too many things on a run, so it’s not the same.
Find Your Stress Reliever
I was fortunate enough to find a stress-reliever that’s been enormously constructive towards my overall health. I take pride in the fact that I exercise daily, and don’t look to things like smoking cigarettes (or insert any other deconstructive stress-reliever here).
The lady on the bus who solves the newspaper’s crossword puzzle, and the guy in the park playing fetch with his dog: these are the people who found something to distract themselves from life. And I find that exercise is one of the best ways to do this.