Exercise Does Not Always Make You Happy

Just like every other women over the age of 16 I am a huge pinterest addict, I am afraid to work out how many hours I spend each day browsing that website. I particularly love the health and fitness section which is often used to find inspiring ideas and quotes that will get me moving. Usually this is a totally motivating experience and I have found countless sayings which I repeat to myself when having trouble getting moving. 

That is until I came across this one.

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Now don’t think that I am hating on exercise. I work out a lot and truly believe that it does improve your mood and can make you feel a million times better both physically and mentally. My problem with this is that a workout is not always the solution.

Take yesterday for example. I was tired but had it in my mind all day that when the sun had set a little and the weather was cooler I would be going for my run. No big deal, I run three times a week and it was just another workout. But during the day I just felt down for whatever reason, you know how sometimes you just feel ‘blah’ and can’t really pinpoint why. I lazed around the house and spend the afternoon trying to pump myself up to run.
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Late afternoon I pulled on my running shorts and headed out the door. I didn’t feel like it at all but kept telling myself that a run would cheer me up and pull me out of this weird funk. Five minutes in it was clear this was not the case. I got the stitch, it was hot, people were walking slowly on the footpath and I had to keep dodging them. I started to get really angry at how slow my pace was and how tired I was feeling. I run a lot and know what my body is capable of, but yesterday it just seemed unable to run full stop.

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Feeling frustrated I forced myself to keep going (which just made me even angrier) before finally heading home. let’s just say that once I had showered and had some water I did not experience the high I usually get from exercising – I was MAD! Mad because my pace was so slow, mad at the people who had been walking through the park annoying me, and mad that I had run at all. I felt like crap all day and all this workout had done was make me feel worse. 

Sometimes we have bad days and exercise helps a lot, but we need to recognize that there are times when skipping it all together is going to improve your mood – and that is okay! Being tired is a huge factor for feeling down and although it might seem counterproductive, resting your body and mind is part of bringing your fitness level up. By taking a rest day your body heals and the next time you do slip on the running shoes your motivation has returned and you often finding yourself doing a totally kick-ass workout. 

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This mentality that exercise is the best thing to bring you out of a slump is problematic. If you run every time you feel down then eventually you are going to hate that workout! We should exercise because we feel good about it, not because it releases endorphines and we are lacking in them toady. By running yesterday I created some resentment towards the run itself and my body as I felt like it had let me down. 

Instead of turning to exercise when you are having a bad day, sometimes it is better to try other options. Talk it out with someone, if there is a problem bothering me I often find that trying to run it out does not work. I just end up over-thinking and having ridiculous conversations in my head then come home feeling just as stressed as ever. Or, even better, nap it out. Seriously sometimes a wee sleep is just what you need to feel back on track.

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Sometimes what we really need is to just relax! When I came home yesterday I lay on my bed with Korean soap operas and just let my mind chill and body rest. It made me feel oh so much better and I am sure that doing this in lieu of the run would have made the world of difference.

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Exercise is important for mental health and 99% of the time it does make up feel much better mentally. However we need to appreciate ourselves and stop forcing our bodies to do something they just can’t do some days. Take the time to recognize how you are feeling and understand if working out will help. If you aren’t sure give yourself five minutes, if you still feel like crap then there ain’t no shame in coming home to unwind in some other way. after all, there are other ways to achieve that good mood.

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