10 benefits of exercise that aren't about weight

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I spent a long time over exercising and pushing my body through pain. I would tell myself I had to “work out” so I could “earn” food to eat that day. I would wake up in the mornings exhausted and close to tears, but I would force myself to put on my workout gear and run. During the depths of my eating disorder, I was running half marathons before I started work! I have to laugh about it now, but at the time I was in a very dark place. I only viewed exercise as a way to “earn calories” or as “punishment” after I binged. It was only during my recovery that I learnt about the benefits of joyful and intuitive movement, and that exercise was so much more than torching calories. 

Exercise shoes

Did you know that regular exercise...

1. Increases bone strength

2. Decreases stress

3. Decreases blood pressure

4. Reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and some cancers

5. Increases heart and lung strength

6. Increases mood

7. Improves satiety cues and appetite regulation

8. Improves learning and memory

9. Prevents cognitive decline with ageing

10.  Increases energy

11. Makes you feel good

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There is also a misconception that exercise must be intense and hard work, but this is not true. We reap the same health benefits from joyful movement as we do from higher intensity workouts. In fact, when we start focusing on moving our body for fun, rather than for calorie purposes, we are more likely to stick to a regular routine. 

What are your favourite ways to move your body?

I love strength training, bike riding, walking, swimming, dancing, hula hooping, hiking and playing outdoor games.  I also add a fun twist to any movement activity, from dancing when I am cleaning the house, to playing games with the Be You Be Free team and syncing workouts to music. What are your favourite ways to move your body? If you are struggling to come up with ideas, then you can try the circle of fun activity.

The circle of fun activity

Grab a piece of paper and write down any movement activities that you enjoy now, or that you used to enjoy as a child. This can be anything from rollerblading, to shopping, to running. Once you have a list, circle all the activities you think you would like to do now. Each week, set a goal and pick one activity to try.  I have been lucky to try a few with the Be You Be Free girls, we have been rollerblading, trampolining and ice skating! 

If you need some inspo then here are 10 ways to move your body for fun.

1.  Go for a nature walk or hike.

2. Put on your favourite music on at home and dance around.

3. Go for a bike ride around your local park.

4. Have a play date with mates. Go bowling, bike riding, rollerblading, organise a ball game, play tennis or go on a walking date.

5. Go shopping!  This one seriously gets your steps up.

6. Go out dancing for the night, or try a dancing class.

7. Go on a walking tour of your city.

8. Try something new such as horse riding, indoor rock climbing, a yoga class or rollerblading.

9. Go to a water park, or theme park for the day.

10. Go scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking or paddle boarding.

Moving our body in a way that is enjoyable really is the key to our health and well-being. If you would like to come along and move your body for fun with us, then sign up here for your free week on the BYBF outdoor group training program