National Exercise Day is celebrated every year on April 18th. The purpose of the day is to encourage everyone to participate in some type of physical activity. Growing up, I was very active, participating in gymnastics (until it was time to do a back-handspring on the high beam – no thank you!), and played basketball, and soccer (my first true love), for many years. After graduating high school, I no longer participated in organized sports, but maintained a level of fitness that was largely driven by aesthetics (also known as body image issues, thanks to the trends of the early 2000s).
Next, came a decade or more of yo-yo dieting, restricting my food intake, and punishing my body by over-exercising. I was stuck in a cycle of gaining and losing the same 15 to 20 pounds (and sometimes more than that). I viewed exercise as something I punished my body with when I couldn’t control my food intake, rather than something that is a privilege of an able-bodied, and for the most part, healthy person.
It wasn’t until last year that I truly fell in love with exercise. For the last 16 months, I have been exercising consistently (shoutout to my husband for buying me a treadmill for Christmas in 2021) and have lost more than 30 pounds. It has been life-changing and has shifted my mindset when it comes to the importance, and benefits, of exercise. As a mother of two young kids, with a full-time job, staying on top of my mental health and stress levels through consistent exercise is what allows me to show up as the best version of myself. Consistent exercise has improved nearly all aspects of my life; I’m happier and healthier both mentally and physically. The “aesthetic benefits” are nice but what is even better is that I eat healthy, have more energy, maintain a healthy weight and am not at risk for things like Type 2 diabetes.
As a reformed cardio-bunny (someone who spends hours doing strictly cardio), incorporating weight training into my routine along with a mix of low-impact cardio and high intensity interval training (HIIT), and rest and recovery days has been the key to my success. I exercise for less time but achieve greater results because I show up consistently and move my body in a way that feels good and is sustainable. If I miss a day, or I indulge at a dinner with friends or family, I no longer spiral and stop exercising for weeks or months at a time. I show up the next day, ready for a fresh start.
So, if you are looking to begin an exercise routine, why not start today on National Exercise Day? Start slow, try new things, just get out there and move your body! If you have questions about exercise, I encourage you to talk to your doctor. This is what worked for me.