Exercise essential to building healthier lifestyle

By Nicholas Cernera

It’s that time of day again –– time for me to go to the gym. Familiar thoughts suddenly pervade my mind.

“You know what, I’m tired. I don’t need to go to the gym today. I just don’t have time. I worked hard all day and I have an exam tomorrow. I’ll just wait until life slows down a bit and then I can get in there and have a good workout. There’s no reason to stress myself out about it.”

Many struggle to develop an organized workout routine. (Flickr)

These sentiments often stop me from sticking to a consistent exercise regimen. Excuses are just too easy. With enough well thought out excuses I can rationalize any unhealthy decision that I make –– at least that’s what the lazier part of me wants to think.

I do know, though, that this type of thinking is not conducive to a healthy or happy life. I’ve taken notice of how my thoughts and excuses correlate with how often I get to the gym and I’ve noticed a number of problems with how I view the situation. The “I don’t have time” excuse has proven to be the most easy to use, yet the least productive.

The truth is not that I don’t have time, but that I’m not carving out the time to exercise because I’d rather do easier, more comfortable activities. Why exercise when I can binge-watch Netflix or hangout with my housemates? Why exercise when I can, you know, not be sweating, in pain and miserable for an hour?

At the end of the day, it’s simply much easier to say that I don’t have time than it is to admit that I could easily exercise for 30 minutes instead of scrolling through Instagram. When I contemplated this matter a little further, I developed a few ways that I could change my mindset for the better.

First of all, I had to drill it into my mind that any workout is better than no workout at all. It’s true – I may not have had the time to go to the gym, get changed, warmup, stretch, lift, do cardio, get changed again and then shower, but this does not mean that I don’t have time to do a 30-minute workout in the comfort of my home.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t have the time to stretch for 10 minutes or do even a single set of pushups. My point is that by the time I go back and forth with myself over whether or not I’ll go to the gym, I could have already been half way through a solid workout. So, when I find myself unable to go through the hassle of a trip to the gym, I do a simple yet effective home workout.

Secondly, I remind myself everyday that exercise is not just about bulging muscles or abs. It’s about managing my stress, feeling connected to the body I exist in, and feeling proud of the fact that I’m doing what is right for my overall health. 

Once I solidified this mindset, I realized that the weight on the bar and the weight on my scale stopped mattering so much. It allowed me to change my priorities and workout simply to feel good and be happy. What’s so wrong with that?

Debating about whether or not to exercise can be even more exhausting and stressful than a workout itself. When I find myself engaging in an internal debate, I simply move my butt over to a yoga mat and start stretching. Once I’m on that mat, I become a little more aware of how my body is feeling and that in and of itself feels good. I try to internalize the notion that actions trump thoughts everyday and the results never disappoint me.

The next time you’re sitting on your phone and ignoring the fact that you wish you were working out, just do something small. Stretch out your hamstrings, do a couple of pushups or just do a single jumping jack. Just move your body and feel good about it. Do that, and you will see the right results. I promise.

Students share opinions around campus

“Is exercise important for a happy life?”

Eli Buckwalter, a sophomore psychology major. (Katherine Holt / Opinions Assistant)

“I would say it’s pretty important. It’s personally helped me overcome certain obstacles.”

Sydney Santiago, a sophomore chemistry major. (Clare McGreevy / Opinions Editor)

“Definitely, because it has more than one benefit. It keeps you healthy in different ways.”

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