Exercise and Self Esteem

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Self-esteem is defined as ” The experience of being capable of meeting life’s challenges and being worthy of happiness.”1 Exercising greatly enhances a person’s self esteem and mental outlook while reducing stress. Self-esteem is a critical component of any program aimed at self-improvement program. It offers hope to correcting these problems. A close relationship has been documented between low self-esteem and such problems as violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, school dropouts, teenage pregnancy, suicide, and low academic achievement.2 It is never too late to start a work out program as a way to best build toward the goal of improved self image, and always too early to stop exercising. Early on in the attitude adjustment process periodic exercise is necessary for good physical and mental health. The focus of this article is to explain how exercise improves a person’s self image. Sudden, seasonal, bursts of energy towards getting in shape come and go with the ever-changing weather. What is important is that maintaining some form of physical exercising, beyond ones every day cycle, helps reduce anxiety while building emotional strength. How? Physical strain weakens pent-up, nervous, energy; that would otherwise fester and brew harshly within a person’s psyche. One theory is that endorphins, a chemical the pituitary gland produced during vigorous exercise improves one’s mood. Regular exercise also decreases the risk for chronic health conditions such as heart disease and cancer, and there seems to be a connection between these illnesses and depression.3 Most people agree that even though they may not look forward to doing a workout, they tend to feel better after they do, and equally better to assume their rightful place at work.4

It should never bother someone to take the relatively minor steps necessary to improve their own health; especially when doing so can only upgrade that person’s self esteem along the way. In this post 911 day feeling good about ones self should be very high on the Must Do List. Even people in their nineties who have not been active for many years can strengthen bones, muscle, heart and lung capacity when they start and maintain a steady exercise program. You don’t have to exercise every day to achieve goals for good health. Initially, aim for every other day.

“I get bored doing exercises. Besides, there never seems to be enough time. “How many of us have said that in the past week alone? Pry a crowbar into that not-as-hectic-as-you-say-it-is schedule of yours, and rush to find time to save your own life. Walking, or running if you’re better able for fifteen minutes is a terrific start. The average length of time spent by those considered in good shape is about twenty minutes three times a week. Whichever course you choose please maintain that physical pace for at least thirty minutes. Eventually, you should want to work out at least 30 minutes each day, but work up to that gradually. Moderate activity that gets your heart pumping a little harder and causes you to break a sweat is what you want to strive for. Strength training is also a good idea. Be sure to warm your body up adequately before you begin your work out.

When the weak excuses of avoidance matter less than attempts at self improvement remember oxygen is the key to life. How well one performs during periods of exercise in full depends upon their oxygen intake. The only way physical recuperation can be achieved is after oxygen has reached the blood stream. This is why it is paramount to breathe properly. Always breathe through the nose and not through the mouth. Oxygen absorbed through the nose reaches the blood many times faster than air absorbed through the mouth. Of all the times to keep your mouth shut this is it. It is this revised breathing pattern that greatly reduces one recovery time, while reducing the likelihood of a heart attack caused form a lack of oxygen in the blood barring any preexisting physical abnormalities.5 Pulmonary rehabilitation can help you reach your physical potential. It can also help you avoid heart attacks and keep you out of the hospital.

Health concerns:

If you’ve had a heart attack, or other heart problems, chances are that you would benefit from regular exercise, and you can probably safely start an exercise program right in your own home. Eventually, you will begin to feel better and want to do more. Being physically fit is good for your back, especially your lower back. An exercise program that emphasizes cardiovascular strength, flexibility, and strength training is good for the health of your back. Activities that are least likely to cause the chronic lower back pain that is so common include things such as biking, hiking and or swimming. Activities with more moderate risks are: baseball, basketball, bowling and golf.

Be certain to warm up before you go, and cool down when you’re finished. Additionally, done properly stretching can prevent injuries such as strains, sprains and shin splints; while increasing the range of motion in the joints and increasing blood circulation. Hold stretches. Bouncing is not beneficial, and may even be harmful. Overstretching can cause injury, so if you’re stretching to the point where you feel pain, stop. The neck, shoulders, trunk, hips, leg and groin muscles all benefit from stretching. Sudden overzealousness can lead to harmful excess. Do not overdo it. A little bit of tightness is expected, but pain is another story altogether. If you begin to feel pain in your joints or your muscles, give yourself days of rest until the pain goes away. If pain continues, or if your legs or feet become cool or pale, see your doctor.

Pay attention to your body’s response to heat. After 15 minutes of working out in hot weather your body temperature can rise as much as 5 degrees. Sweating has a cooling effect on your body, and sufficient fluid is needed to produce enough sweat. Drink water before and after you work out, as well as every 15-20 minutes during your exercise routine. If your body can’t get rid of heat effectively, the consequences can be as simple as an uncomfortable workout or as serious as fatal heat stroke. An even cool-down decline period is also important after the workout is finished. If, during this time you experience shortness of breath, dizziness, cold or clammy skin, nausea or chest pains while you are exercising, stop right away and call your doctor.

Where is the best place to work out? Many cannot afford the rising prices of fitness clubs, or home fitness equipment. That is ok. In the home simple chairs and the floor are excellent starting apparatus for use by the beginner. And since saving money is a consideration staying home is a superior way to minimizes costs. Keeping in mind, failure to do something about one’s weakening health will have tragic consequences.

“I don’t need a formal exercise program. I walk from desk to desk at least three miles at my job every day. I don’t need more exercise. “Here again, the lazy rush to the forefront. Shuffling around the office hardly substitutes for a prolonged, minute after minute, calorie burning program that extended exercise offers. Office types can walk for the rest of their indoor careers and never accumulate the needed time necessary to burn calories and unmanageable fat buildup. “I’m running around so much anyway that the stress of it all is probably just as good as exercising.” Wrong. Get off your duff. The excuses are failing you as fast as your inactivity.

Losing weight seems to be high on the list of why people want to exercise. While fat does nothing beyond sitting there; muscle tissue burns calories much faster than fat. Calories only burn with the combination of exertion and time allotted to that strain. Through it all a rapid heart rate, with quickened breathing, to achieve sought after reductions. Also, strength training can tone your muscles and increase bone mass especially important for women, who are frequently at risk for osteoporosis. Weight reduction is in direct relation to energy spent multiplied by time allotted. Here are three shortcut exercise suggestions:

  1. Park your car farther away from your destination than you normally do to give yourself extra walking time.
  2. If possible, take just 15 minutes before or after you eat lunch to go for a quick walk.
  3. Exercising with a group puts peer pressure on all of us not to quit.

At work walk the halls briskly or go up and down the stairs to get your blood pumping a little faster do it. Even though the weather is never totally reliable you can still go to your nearest mall and walk briskly. Add some fun to your routine try dancing, or dance classes. It’s a great way to socialize and exercise at the same time. According to the women’s Sports Foundation. “women who exercise report being happier than those who do not exercise.” Women who exercise miss fewer days of work. Regular exercise can reduce high levels of fat in the blood. Women who exercise weigh less than non-exercising women. The World Health Organization estimates that fewer than 30% of American adults engage in some form of physical exercise on a daily basis. Whereas nearly 60% of American youth manage to find the time for physical exertion; to a sufficient level to constitute constructive physical activity helpful to prolonged good health.6 Once the fitness routine is properly mapped out and underway there is a new, healthier, addiction taking place. Doing well with what is natural. By all accounts, it is far cheaper and easier to manage than pills and expensive medical advice. Good medicine is not cheap. Neither is bad medicine. Going through these quick moves a few times during your work day will help your body release tension and make you feel better than if you simply sit.

  1. Clasp your hands behind your head and pull your elbows together and shoulder blades back.
  2. Gently bend your wrists up and down, holding 3 to 5 seconds each time.
  3. Hug yourself tightly for 10 seconds, then change your arms (bottom to top) and do it again.
  4. Slowly tilt your head left, right, front, back.
  5. Raise your arms over your head, and stretch one hand higher, then the other.
  6. Stand in place and march using high knee responses.

A 2002 study by The National Academy of Health showed teens were five times more likely to engage in overuse of alcohol, drugs and crime than were those who were already committed to a regular schedule of exercise. Incidents of absenteeism at the work place decrease with programs of employee fitness available.6

It comes naturally to send kids outside to play during the warmer months. In the winter, you have to make more of a conscious effort. Don’t let the kids veg-out watching bargain basement videos and tired, re-run television shows complete with their own reality video games attached all day during the weekends. Consider making exercise a family thing. Go skating, take a winter hike or even a nice long walk. The cold fresh air will invigorate everybody and make sleep come a little easier too. Exercising regularly in amounts of time that add up to thirty minutes a day should help a troubled person fall asleep at night. You might not be able to do it every day, but using your lunch hour for physical exercise a few times a week can be a real time-saver. Just getting out and walking for 30 minutes can be a great energizer.

If a longer lunch exercise session appeals to you, it might not be a bad idea to talk to your supervisor about it. You might get permission to do a serious workout at a health club if there’s one nearby, a skating rink, a basketball court, whatever if you’re willing to make up the time at the end of the day; not a bad idea considering you won’t need to rush home and exercise after work. See, I remembered how busy you are. During holiday time people need to exercise as much as any other time of year if not more considering the added mental stress that holidays tend to bring. For those who stop exercising in the winter, and attempt to pick up where they left off when it gets warm are exposing themselves to the risk of injury. In bad weather, little daylight, or during holiday periods, there’s plenty of time for over indulgence; making it tempting to spend free time under a blanket watching television and eating from a giant bowl of chips. Staying active gives a person not only more energy but the desire to want more. Remember exercise needs to feel a little bit like work. Challenge yourself in the following ways:

  1. Perform your activity more quickly than usual, or double the amount of time you usually devote to exercise.
  2. Add weight training to your routine.

“Are weights still heavy? ” I heard a less than enthusiastic, rotund, person ask; having responded to complaints about the over-size storage trunk he refers to as his stomach. “Probably” I replied with an ounce of sarcasm, knowing this conversation was spiraling. The chubby one added, ” Rather than risk a month after month work out routine doing the wrong thing I’d rather not start at all. ” What can be done with folks like this? The lazy. Those who reason themselves out of a chance at improved health before they begin are a sad lot indeed. They blindly conjure countless, air-tight, reasons for doing nothing about their lasting problem of poor mental and physical health. How tragic it is when laziness wins out over correctness. Who then to listen to? Take a leisurely stroll through any hospital ward; where the occupants are literally dying for a chance to do what the perpetually lazy pass-up daily a real chance to succeed. Exercise helps when people feel down in the dumps.7

It is also very effective against major depressive disorders. If, however, you take medication for depression and you’re interested in finding out whether exercise would benefit you, talk with your doctor. Never stop taking prescription medicine without talking with your doctor first.8 Once the new you is exercising you will soon realize that exercise makes you feel better. It is not your imagination. Make exercise a habit. As we all know, habits are hard to break bad ones and good ones. That’s why you’ll find it hard to get out of the habit of exercising once it has become part of your routine. Tell yourself that for the next few months you are going to exercise on specific days week after week. After three months, you probably won’t want to break this habit.

Bibliography

  1. The National Association for Self-Esteem (2002)
  2. The True Meaning of Self Esteem by Robert Reasoner
  3. Journal of the American Medical Association (2001)
  4. National Association of Labor Statistics (2002)
  5. American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (2002)
  6. The World Health Organization (2000)
  7. National Institute of mental health (2002)
  8. American Council on Exercise (2001)

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