I have been working out for most of my life, starting with a Rocky Balboa-inspired unorthodox routine I thought would make me the best Little League Baseball player in Los Angeles (I was actually among them) to routines shaped by the best trainers in baseball with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
These days, I do most of my own programming based on fitness or strength goals I create for myself with tools you can find here. I give you the background simply to say that exercise and working out is part of a lifestyle that I’ve created over 40 years and one I still continue to live out today because of the incredible benefits that come with it—not the least of which is that it is a huge stress reliever.
As a marketing executive today, I’m busy and constantly under pressure to deliver. As a former All-American closer at Long Beach State, I learned how to deal with pressure in high-leverage situations, so job pressure alone isn’t necessarily too big a challenge. But when life adds a few stresses to the mix, things can start to pile up and make me feel a bit overwhelmed.
The past couple of weeks serve as a great example.
- My oldest son was in an accident and his car is out of commission until fixed.
- My youngest son started college in the middle of COVID, adding a ton of unusual stress for him; his car battery died and his like-new tire went flat, so his car is also out of commission.
- And on top of everything, I am traveling out of state in a couple of days to move my dad and his wife into assisted living.
Now if you’re anything like me, it’s during these times that we stop taking care of ourselves and step in to take care of everyone else. But doing that comes with a major risk of personal burnout or shutdown. Meaning I tend to stop working out or eating or sleeping as much as I need to so I can help out. This week, though, I’ve been super intentional about making time to work out. I’ve learned over the years that physical activity, and specifically working out, gives me energy and allows me to think through and process things that are starting to impact me emotionally.
Research by the Harvard Medical School shows us that there are incredible benefits to working out, and specifically, exercising to relax. But I like the list that Greatist put together of the 13 Unexpected Benefits of Exercise.
- Working out reduces stress
- Boosts happy chemicals (endorphins)
- Improves self-confidence
- Improves self-confidence even more if done in nature
- Prevents cognitive decline
- Alleviates anxiety
- Boosts brain power
- Sharpens your memory
- Helps manage addiction
- Increases relaxation
- Helps you get more done
- Boosts creativity
- Inspires others
Now that’s not to say that there isn’t a place or time for rest. There is. In fact, rest is one of the key foundations in my Fit at 50 program. But if you’re feeling overloaded or that there’s not enough of you to go around, a good session in the gym may just be what you need to make it through.