Fit
May 31, 2018

What happens to your body when you first start exercising?

It's not always glamourous
Excercise regularly2

If your idea of a hard workout is getting off the couch to find the missing remote, the first time you start exercising might come as somewhat of a shock to your body. As much as you may detest feeling like your lungs might explode and lying down on the road while letting the birds peck your eyes out is preferable to walking one further step, exercise is essential to a long and healthy life.

Making the decision to start exercising is the easy part, but what else should you expect when you first start your journey to getting back in shape?

You’re going to feel like crap
The good news is the first couple of times you workout are the worst. The more you work out, the easier it becomes. The feeling of fighting for breath, turning 50 shades of beetroot and sweating like a horse will get easier. You may even enjoy it. The key is to find something you like, start out slowly and build up your intensity levels. You can’t expect to run a marathon the first time you lace up your trainers. 

You may experience rigamortis-like stiffness
Yes, an intense workout can cause your muscles to contract making it tricky to walk, let alone lever yourself off the toilet seat for about 24-48 hours afterward. There is likely to be pain, stiffness and soreness like you’ve never experienced, but keep in mind the old adage—no pain, no gain. Stretching before and afterwards helps—a lot.

Exercise boosts feel-good hormones
There maybe much cursing under your breath at your personal trainer as they push you to give them five more burpees, but the buzz of pushing through a boot camp or group fitness class to completion can put you on a high. The feel-good hormones (endorphins) can lift your mood, make you feel dedicated, like you could literally kick anyone’s butt. After a while this elation can be addictive. It's what keeps us getting up at 5.30am (or earlier) every morning, even when we don't feel like it.

You’ll improve your quality of life
Naturally, this won’t happen over night, but it will happen (and probably without you even noticing). Not only will you be able to see your toes, you’ll be able to reach them. Chasing the kids around the backyard won’t leave you desperately in need of a nana nap. Even simple day-to-day tasks like carrying groceries, reaching and twisting will be easier.

No more counting sheep to fall asleep
Forget warm cups of milk or relying on addictive medications for a restful night’s sleep. Experts from the National Sleep Foundation suggest one exercise session of moderate-level can improve sleep. Studies conducted found those who exercised between 4–24 months took to less time getting to sleep and slept longer compared to being sloth-like and inactive.

You’ll be more productive
Due to sleeping better, you’ll wake up feeling more alert and motivated. Even a brisk 10-minute walk can make your brain more alert. Exercise is even more effective than caffeine. Why not substitute your morning black for a swim or high intensity interval workout?

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-Leigh-Anne Parish

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