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Why regular exercise is essential for the mind and body

Why Regular Exercise is Essential for the Mind and Body

By Sirish Pulusani  

2019 | 8 minute read

The average day of a modern person is so far removed from the environment our ancestors evolved in, that it must be a complete shock to our current human bodies—we were just not meant to be sedentary day after day.

This is not to say our evolutionary heritage should always dictate our present-day lifestyles, but one thing here is indisputable—regular physical activity has such an extensive range of benefits across the entire spectrum of the human experience that to not include it in your daily routine (if you are physically able to) would be doing yourself a grave disservice.

Stop imagining physical activity as something you have to do to lose weight and start imagining it as something you need to do to gain access to the full potential of your mind.

As humans evolved in the savannas of East Africa, there wasn’t too much time for just sitting around.  It was a dangerous and fragile environment, and our brains and physical bodies developed to survive it.  Most of our instincts were forged by that environment.  You had to hunt and gather food for sustenance, protect yourself from predators, and walk long distances just to quench your thirst.  


Humans migrated great distances, eventually spreading across Europe and Asia, traveling thousands of miles by foot.  Even after agriculture was invented around 12,000 years ago—and civilizations started flourishing—human beings worked and toiled in fields, built amazing works of architecture, and generally stayed active throughout the day.

Humans have never been a sedentary species.  For thousands of years we relied on our physical bodies to surive—and to thrive. 

It should be no surprise then that the human body is adapted and suited to moving around so much. Physical activity puts certain stresses on our body that are essential for it to grow and function properly.  These days, though, most people no longer need to involve physical activity in earning their livelihood, but instead usually have jobs and careers that require they not move around.


No wonder that most people find it so difficult to make room for exercise, despite knowing the myriad of benefits it provides.  Our modern-day environment seems to do everything it can to stifle our activity levels.


Lack of time is one of the main reasons people give for their lack of physical activity.  My hope is that, after reading this, you will find out how easy it is to make some allowance in your day to do something active.  Even the most successful, busy people in the world find the time, and the reason is they realize how important it is for their creative work and mental well-being.  It can reduce stress, give you more energy, make you more motivated, and help you think more clearly.  If you feel tired and lazy all day, your time is already being wasted.  It would make sense to do something that gives you a major mental and physical boost.


Part of the issue is that many people see exercise as a chore.  Something difficult that we have to do—a painful process that we have to get past before we reap the rewards.  And to some extent, this is true, especially in the beginning.  As with any new venture, there is a period of discomfort.  And to make any type of progress we have to learn how to embrace that discomfort, knowing that on the other side, there is something so grand that it will be worth all the work and sweat that we poured into it.
Let me assure you, though, that this initial discomfort or unease with starting something new doesn’t have to last.  In fact, for some people, physical activity can become such a positive force in their life that the days they are not able to get in a workout are going to be the most uncomfortable ones.
Once you incorporate physical activity into your life and make it a routine, it will become harder and harder to not continue to be active every day.  The immense benefits that regular exercise provides will make you wonder why you didn't start sooner.  

A seemingly unending number of distractions and responsibilities make it seem hard to make time for exercise.  It's time you start prioritizing exercise precisely because it makes you less distracted and more focused, making it easier to tackle responsibilities.  

Many people just hate the idea of exercise in general. They usually associate it with going to an intimidating gym or on a boring thirty-minute run, and never found anything they liked so never tried to pursue it further.
That’s why one of the main goals will be to find some type of physical activity that you can enjoy, as that is the ideal way to make sure you stick to doing it. Bored to death by jogging for thirty minutes a day? So am I. But what about swimming? Or biking? Or tennis? Or yoga? Or hiking? Or dancing? I am not convinced, that out of the hundreds, if not thousands, of physical activities that one could do, you would not find a single one even remotely enjoyable.
Think back to the days when you were a kid, and you used to go out on your bike, or play tag, or run around in the backyard or playground.  Being active is in our nature, we grew up that way—until indoor distractions made it much easier to sit around in the house.  I’m not advocating that you try and start a game of tag with a group of your peers—they might find you a little bit unusual if you did that—but believe me, there is something out there that is fun to do actively, that is already being done by a lot of other people who would be happy to let you join in.
In fact, it is easier than ever to find people to do physical activities with on social media, and I don’t just mean on Tinder.  And if you don’t want to rely on other people, there are plenty of individual activities you can do these days, too.  The more you start exploring ways to make physical activity a part of everyday life, the more opportunities you will see open up and it will become much easier to find something you enjoy—and others to bond with.  

It's easier than ever to find a myriad of different physical activities to engage in―and people to bond with over them.   

The resources compiled on this website should make it easier than ever for you to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle.  If you are a beginner, try not worry about minor details—focus most of your energy on starting a routine or activity.  As you start to see improvements you will naturally want to find out more details and will want a lot of questions answered.  What are the most efficient methods of adding lean mass?  Can you lose fat and gain muscle at the same time? (Yes!) What exactly is aerobic and anaerobic activity and what effects do they have on the body?  Is it possible to specifically reduce belly fat first? (No!)


Your time and money are important, and all that will be taken into consideration when trying to provide you with the best information and tools to ensure that you make physical activity the priority that it should be in your life.  The mental and physical benefits of exercise are just too great for it not to be prioritized.


Read next: Five Useful Principles to Help You Exercise Regularly.
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