Body Check: Are You Exercising Enough For Your Body?

What does it mean to have a “healthy relationship” with food and exercise? For some people, listening to their body and giving it the fuel it needs to move is completely intuitive. But your body can get confusing with so many different ways to work out and feed. If you feel guilty on your non-exercise days or restrict what you eat when you don’t work out, it may be time to run a mind and body check and think about your relationship with exercise.

If you exercise merely to change your body or feel like exercise only counts if you are utterly exhausted, and in a pool of sweat, it could indicate that your relationship with exercise and food could use some healing. All workouts count, whether you’re sweating or not. The most important thing is your intention; it can make a massive difference between a happy and unhappy mind.

Mental Health: Your Relationship with Exercise and Food

If you experience stress or anxiety, you often hear that you should go for a walk out in nature or for a jog. Research shows that working out is good for your mental health. It triggers the release of serotonin and endorphins, which improve your mood.

However, if you start to feel super guilty on your non-exercise days or you work out to counteract eating a sweet treat that you feel guilty about, it’s time to reflect. If you feel like it’s a disaster to miss a workout and it could have catastrophic consequences, you may need to heal your relationship with exercise.

Overexercising and burnout are very real and can result in injury. Recovery and refueling are a crucial part of seeing gains and progress. If you don’t give your body a chance to recover correctly, it’s difficult to fuel it properly.

fit woman working out and stretching in gym
Overexercising are very real and can result in injury. (Image Source: Shutterstock)

When a lack of exercise is associated with deep guilt or anxiety, it’s not healthy for your mind. Exercise should make you feel good, improve your mood, and ease the effects of stress on the body. But when you associate your workouts with your self-worth and emotional health, it can be harmful.

Self-Improvement: How to Heal Your Relationship with Exercise

It’s easy to get into a cycle of all-or-nothing behavior. Sometimes you start exercising to feel good, which can end up with unrealistic outcomes or toxic diet cultures. The good news is that you can re-evaluate your relationship with exercise and work toward feeling good about how you move your body.

Create Your Own Vision

Whether you’ve plateaued in weight loss, want to feel stronger, or hope to sleep better, think about what it is you want. What exercise do you enjoy, and what motivates you? Your own fitness vision is individual to you. Begin to understand what works for your body to create a sustainable exercise plan without guilt or pressure. Focus on workouts that you enjoy and make you feel good.

Listen to Your Body

Try to avoid comparing your goals or results to anyone else’s. The same applies to your food, workouts, and body. When you start comparing and care a lot about what others think, it’s easy to forget what your body needs. While it’s not always easy to listen to your body, it is something you can learn to do. If you’re sore, take a day off. If you’re craving something, go for it and enjoy it. A one-off treat isn’t going to derail your progress.

Full length shot of young active man watching online video training on laptop.
Try to avoid comparing your goals to anyone else’s (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Challenge Negative Thinking

Your language and how you think play a big role in the guilt surrounding an unhealthy relationship with food. Instead of thinking, “I didn’t work out today, so I can’t eat that dessert,” or “I worked out, so I can eat out at a restaurant tonight,” try to switch up your mindset. Don’t think of exercise as a way to absolve your food choices; your intention is important and can affect how you feel in general.

Focus on All Benefits

While seeing the number on the scale change can feel good, especially during weight loss, try to consider all the other benefits you experience. It’s amazing when your body changes and you start to see all the effort you’re putting in. But also think about other benefits like:

  • Better sleep
  • More energy in the day
  • Stronger muscles
  • Increased stress management
  • Boosting social opportunities

Body Goals: How Much Should You Exercise?

Regular exercise is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week plus two days of lifting.

The reality is that this can look different in practice. Your age, body goals, and health all influence how much exercise you should do. Yoga, hiking, taking the stairs, or spin classes all count as exercise.

How Much Exercise Should You Get Each Week ︱JAMA Network

Working out four or five times for twenty minutes is better than one hour occasionally. All workouts count as exercise; you don’t need to be dripping with sweat. Most people think that twenty to thirty minutes isn’t enough to get in a workout. But thirty minutes is more than enough to work out and counts toward your exercise quota. Your exercise can accumulate over the week, so don’t be harsh on yourself if you feel like you can’t make that hour-long spin class. Any movement is good for you.

The best home workout apps can help you to sneak in a quick workout during your lunch break or after work. Your body needs to move and benefits from regular movement.

Body Check: Developing a Healthy Relationship with Exercise and Food

Food is the fuel your body needs; it’s important to stop viewing it as a reward for sweating. Developing a healthy relationship with exercise takes time. But as you start to recognize how exercise makes your body feel good, you can shift your mindset. Your body needs time off to recover and refuel between workouts. Whether you love to dance, walk, run, or bike, find something you enjoy. Be kind and patient to your evolving body.