Exercise for Health, Not Weight Loss
Have you ever taken a “fat-burning” exercise class? We hate to break it to you, but exercising for the sake of losing weight is typically ineffective.
As such, folks who are only exercising with a focus on losing weight will end up giving up pretty quickly when they notice that the weight isn’t coming off.
The good news is, there are many benefits to exercise that go beyond weight loss. That’s why it’s important to reframe exercise for health.
The Trap of Exercising to Lose Weight
As mentioned above, the idea of exercising to drop pounds begins to make exercise feel like punishment. It can become sheer drudgery to get to the gym or that fitness class when it you’re only doing it to “work off” the extra serving you had at dinner or to simply get a slimmer appearance.
By focusing instead on how exercise will make you feel and its longer term health benefits, you’re more likely to keep up with your exercise program. And even if it doesn’t effectively shed weight, exercising can certainly prevent weight gain and reduce visceral fat. Plus, when you build lean muscle, you’ll improve your appearance.
Plus, the benefits of physical activity include (but aren’t limited to) reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, depression, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Then, of course, there are all of the mental benefits of exercise. It’s hard to deny that after exercising, most people feel improved mood and a marked reduction in stress. It can also help with sleep issues. So rather than seeing exercise as a bothersome chore that doesn’t help you lose weight, it makes sense to reframe exercise in a way that emphasizes the health benefits.
Research Bears Out Reframing
There’s definitely power in reframing how we look at exercise. In fact, in a recent study, the authors examined the ways we frame our physical activities and how they impact our eating choices.
The researchers predicted that participants would be more likely to indulge in hedonistic food if exercise were framed as exercise versus it being framed as something enjoyable.
In the first study, they framed a one-mile walk as purely exercise for half the participants, while the other half experienced it as an mp3 test. The second study had the participants take the same one-mile walk, but they framed it as an enjoyable sightseeing tour.
A third study looked at participants in a race. After the race, they were asked to indicate the level of fun they had during the race and then choose between an unhealthy snack and one that was relatively healthy.
In both the first two cases, those participants who thought they were only exercising made a less healthy food choice than those who were enjoying themselves.
The results were the same for the third study. Participants who allowed themselves to have fun during the race were not as likely to choose the unhealthy option. So it’s clear that framing exercise as something to enjoy has a positive impact.
Ways to Reframe Exercise for Health
So that’s all fine and good, you may think. But how do you go about reframing exercise as something positive and not just a means for looking better?
Here are some suggestions.
1. What Do You Enjoy?
If your workout routine is rote and boring and uninspiring, no wonder you want to ditch it! Nobody said exercise has to be boring. This just lends to the idea of physical activity as punishment.
Any kind of movement is better than none. So maybe you listen to some great dance music while taking a brisk walk or even cleaning the house. Or if you’re an avid runner, change up your route and try a park or nature path.
2. The Power of Words
Make a list of activities you like. Then brand those activities with a new title. This might sound hokey, but it works. There is power in words.
For example, maybe you see your visit to the gym as a time to “throw stuff” or “play on machines.” Your early morning bike ride might be a time that you “chase the sunrise.” Giving your activity a new spin can make a bigger difference than you might think.
3. See It As a Personal Happy Hour
If you’re someone who’s very busy, you may be tempted to ditch the exercise and give yourself an hour on the couch. And sometimes that may be the solution.
But you could also look at this time as time that’s just for YOU. No phone calls to make, no work to do, and nobody to take care of but yourself. In the end, you’ll feel better about yourself than you would had you gone to actual happy hour. (Okay, maybe not exactly. But you’ll still feel good!)
4. Find Your Tribe
Going into this reframing thing alone can be challenging. So hook up with others who enjoy fitness for the sake of fitness. You’re bound to find other like-minded folks in group classes who will help you stay on track.
Looking to Enjoy Exercise for Health?
It isn’t always easy to approach your exercise regimen with positivity. But when you’re able to reframe exercise for health, it can sure make it feel all the more rewarding.
Contact us today to find out about our group and private classes in Pilates, GYROTONIC®, and GYROKINESIS® methods.
Your tribe awaits!