By: Shannon Shull
In some of my past blog entries I have focused on the benefits of moving our bodies. Whether for our mental or physical health, it’s just a no-brainer that physical fitness is good for our bods, inside and out. To me, it has always been a given that when done correctly, any physical fitness can be beneficial. Until recently, though, I never understood just how beneficial it can really be.
For any of you who have read my blog entries or know me personally, you know that one of the things I do with my busy life is instruct Zumba. Being a Zumba and Aqua Zumba instructor is how I attempt to stay in shape and keep my heart healthy. Plus, my commitment to teaching helps to hold me accountable to moving my body in the first place! If I did not have to be at the gym to instruct a class, I would stay too busy to ever take the time to actually work out.
What I did not consider when I started instructing these classes, was the incredible mental benefits that would come with the exercise. I am a true testament to the fact that moving your body on a regular basis can help you deal with stress. Over the past couple of years, my life has been overwhelmed with stress and change – mistakes, life lessons learned, enormous challenges, and a constant journey for strength, faith, hope and forgiveness. Heaven forbid life is ever easy or we make all the right decisions, eh? Let’s just say, I’m quite surprised I have any sanity left at all! But I can say with confidence that the physical activity I get through instructing Zumba is one of the main things in my personal life that has kept me from going off the deep end.
All that being said, I recently came across a fabulous article in Health Magazine, which focuses on the fact that a good workout can indeed be the best medicine for a whole lot of things! This particular article touches on challenges ranging from lower back pain, to hot flashes, to dealing with a racing mind, and then gives real fitness solutions to target each problem. Some workouts are better than others in fixing different problems. If you have a specific, or several ailments, I can almost guarantee that there is probably some sort of fitness exercise out there that can specifically target your problem. You just have to take the time to do the research and find your personal fitness fix-its.
As I’ve mentioned before in one of my blog entries, which I’m very proud of, it’s a great idea to add a mental health check-up to your “To-Do” list. As a society, we tend to put such an enormous focus on our physical state instead of on our mental state. Let’s face it – looking healthy on the outside is no guarantee that you’re healthy or happy on the inside. And the truth is, they go hand and hand. Our physical and mental wellness partner together, whether we want them to or not! If we just remember to recognize how the two work together, we can see both day-to-day and long-term benefits.
Research proves that our self-esteem soars when we work out. I can certainly attest to that on many levels. I can walk into the gym dreading having to teach a Zumba class because I’m so stressed out, feeling hopeless and wonder how I’ll ever make it through the first song, much less a whole hour of leading a class. But, it never fails. I walk in to see the amazing, smiling faces of these precious people eager to move and have fun and I’m given the strength to step up to do my job. And then low and behold, the more I move, the more endorphins run through my body, resulting in a return to sanity. A sweet release occurs when you get a good workout. I walk out of each class with a renewed sense of self, physically and mentally.
I have even discovered that on those lovely days when I’m battling intense monthly period pains and the last thing I want to do is move, the workout I get while teaching a Zumba class ALWAYS makes me feel better. It never fails. I can walk into a class wondering if I will be able to move adequately due to the menstrual war raging within my body, and then I walk out refreshed and amazed that the cramps have subsided. It literally feels as if I danced a bit of peace into my insides. Crazy, but it works every time!
I can certainly say that I have discovered how I can fix some things with fitness. It may not be a magical cure-all that will always keep stress away or keep me from having a period, but it darn well helps keep the stress and pain at bay, and contributes to helping me stay somewhat securely strapped into the roller coaster ride that is my life.
Don’t forget to add that mental check-up to your “To-Do” list! Check out the Health Magazine article and check out some of the fitness solutions to some everyday health problems. And by all means, do your own research and make an effort to discover what workouts can help fix your ailments!
Please add a comment to share any of your own personal experiences in which you have been able to ‘fix it with fitness.’