Opportunity. That is exactly what exercise provides. An opportunity to change, reshape, remold our collective physiology, health and well-being. Perhaps it sounds a little too sensational. Perhaps it sounds too daunting of a task. Or perhaps excuses flood your collective consciousness with the mere thought of exercise.
I’m too out of shape.
Exercise is too hard.
Exercise takes too much time.
It takes too long to see a difference.
Herein can lie the mental roadblock to just get started; we take the longer term, transformative view of exercise (which is still great!) instead of just taking that first step to realize the instant benefits of exercise.
Benefits of Exercise: Immediate Effects and Longer Term Adaptations
Exercise, when done safely and appropriately, is a stimulus that provides an opportunity to make positive adaptations. We often view those adaptations to only be long term.
No matter the justification or rationalization to put off exercising, the benefits of simply beginning an exercise program can be realized right away. Performing just one single bout of exercise triggers a cascade of hormonal, cardiovascular, physiological, neurological, endocrinological and biological benefits. Here are a few specific examples:
Hormonal: The burn you feel when properly exercising is a signal that your muscles are consuming their stored energy. This lowers blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity.
Cardiovascular: As muscles are fatigued, they need more oxygen to support their function. This triggers the heart and lungs to get to work and shuttle oxygen throughout the body and to the brain, which also improves blood pressure.
Physiological: Muscles respond favorably to being worked (i.e. contracted). Finding the Right-Intensity of exercise to trigger the maximal recruitment of muscle fibers leads to improved muscle quality right away.
Neurological: Perhaps no other benefit is so rapidly realized than the immediate effect that exercise has on our cognition, mood, and neurological abilities.
Endocrinological: So many muscle building and fat-burning hormones can be stimulated by exercise and put to use by your body right away, not to mention it’s a great strategy to improve sleep.
Biological: Want more energy? Expend more energy with exercise. Exercise can stimulate all the various energy systems of the body, which leads to more efficient use of mitochondria and greater energy production.
Furthermore, “there is strong and consistent evidence that a single exercise session can acutely reduce triglycerides and increase HDL cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis.”
So just by performing one, singular bout of exercise (done correctly), you become stronger and smarter, fight aging, reduce your risk for heart disease and give your body a chance to burn fat!
Naturally, finding a program that’s sustainable, appropriately challenging, and provides a culture of friendly encouragement and accountability will give you the greatest chance to improve transformative health outcomes. Wouldn’t it be great to prevent/manage diabetes, lose significant fat, minimize the risk for heart disease, slow the effects of aging, reduce chronic inflammation, etc?
So no matter how long you’ve put off exercising for the first time (or picking up where you left off), it’s time to take the first step. Give the immediate benefits of exercise a chance to show you it’s never too late to (re)start!