Exercise: It's More than Losing Weight or Looking Better

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Think about these questions honestly for a moment: Why do you exercise? How do you really feel about fitness?

Is it something you dread each day? Something you make excuses to avoid? Do you drudge through it, painstakingly watching the clock as you counting down the minutes or tallying up your reps?

Or perhaps exercise is something you look forward to. Even though it's challenging, you get enjoyment from finishing a tough workout and reaching new milestones.

No matter how you feel now, I think we're all capable of the latter. I believe that at first, exercise is a thing you HAVE to do, but over time, it becomes something that you want to do. But that doesn't happen if you're not working on developing the right attitude toward exercise.

Unfortunately, most images we see of exercise (think reality TV, especially of the weight-loss variety) show it to be intimidating, painful, or extreme. The hottest workout trends these days are "insanely" intense, which makes many believe that going "all out" is the only way to get real results. And when it comes to marketing in the fitness industry, well, we're bombarded with messages telling us that exercise will help us achieve a certain physique. That's partly true (but not without a dietary overhaul), but I think that exercising to lose weight is only so motivating. What about how exercise makes you feel? In the end, the only way you'll stick with a workout is not by losing a few inches, but by gaining something more.

The other day, SparkPeople member Jen (MAPGEEK) shared an excellent video with me via Twitter. Although it's a commercial for a fitness apparel store and it focused on women, she tweeted, "Someone got it right." I have to agree. Not only is this commercial inspirational, but it focuses on exercising for some of the best reasons, and what working out can really add to a person's life. Take a look.

(See the video on YouTube or watch below.)

Does exercise mean this much to you? It does to me. It's so ingrained in my daily life that I can't imagine it not being there. It's my stress reliever. It's the way I take care of myself and honor my body. No matter how it changes my body (or doesn't), it makes me feel better about my body and what it's capable of. Exercise makes me feel strong, independent, and confident. It's my time alone where I can think about everything I want or nothing at all. It's quiet time, but it can also be loud or crazy. I can share it with others by teaching a class (which I love), or just run away from my day by putting one foot in front of the other as I head out the door. I can't imagine my life without exercise, and honestly, I wouldn’t want to. Fitness has brought nothing but good to my life, and I can't wait to see how it will help me next. When I really think about the important place it holds, how can I say I'm not motivated to do it?

How about you? What does exercise mean to you? How has it affected your life? Share your thoughts below!

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WONDERGALE 12/21/2017
Great article. Report
ILOVEROSES 5/19/2017
Video not available. Report
MCJULIEO 5/14/2017
Video not available! Report
GREAT video!!! Report
I'm still in a place where excerise is a chore (for the most part). I know I FEEL better after, and I know that I need to do it to be healthy, but it still takes will power to get me to do it. I think I just haven't found something that I truely enjoy. I mix it up, but honestly, I get bored on a treadmill, a workout video, or on a walk after about 12 minutes (seriously I have mapped out my boredom phases). This is partially due to my self diagnosed adult ADD (I've been this way since about the end of high school). Also, I think I just haven't found something I really enjoy. I am going to try Zumba at my neighborhood community center which is SOOO much cheaper than a gym membership, so we'll see. :) I keep plugging away even if it is a chore, so I guess that is the best thing right? Report
I don't love every minute of actually doing the exercise but I do LOVE the feeling I get when I'm finished. Exercise keeps me sane.....sometimes it feels like a drug. I'm able to forget ALL of my worries and frustrations and concentrate on my body. I loved the commercial.......it made me want to get back out on the trail! Report
In July my husband was in a horrible accident at the refinery he worked at.After 9 days in the hospital and two surgerys later they reluctantly let him come home.With a 12inch x 8 inch open wound on his leg and nurses in and out of our home and another surgery to close it up in Nov.All the while trying to keep working(nights)and 2 to 5 doctor appointments a week with physical therapists surgeons and specialists only to continuously be told we'll do the best we can but theres probably not much hope.Through all this I kind of lost myself and gained back 20 lb it took me a few years to take off.Before the accident we were always at the farmers market,hiking and doing yard work.We are beginning to figure out how to have a different life and still be close.Today he dropped me and our lil dog Rosie off at a trail head and then drove down to the other end at the beach to read the paper till we got down there.It felt so good to feel the breeze caressing my face and watching my little Rosie girl running to catch up with me....lil ears back in the wind!And when we got to the bottom there was Daddy waiting happy to see us.I asked him if this was ok and he said ya,it was great and we can do this anytime i want.Feels so good to find a way to get back into being active without feeling like i am getting on with life and leaving the one i love so dearly behind.Our future is not over ,just different
I love being done with a workout! I love the accomplishment, the feeling of sweat, breath, and "tears" that come when I'm done!! My family is supportive - to an extent. I LOVE the alone time . . . especially right now while they are singing, dancing, yelling, and cavorting.
GREAT blog. I have come to love the exercise, sweat, and the feeling of accomplishment that being part of the SPARK and tracking FITNESS Minutes brings. Fine fitness feats/feets to all! Bring on summer!! Report
Exercise does mean all that the commercial says, but at this time I have a 4 year old, a 3 year old, and a 5-month old. I rarely have a moment alone to even think, let alone get away to exercise or be alone with time to move my body! If I am alone, the first thing I realize is that it's naptime and I have to be SILENT or else someone will wake up and spoil my quiet time. I struggle to get my DH to watch the kids, on a daily basis, so I can get some sort of routine time to exercise (in the basement with the Wii or outside)...anything. I've totally given up the thought of playing tennis (my beloved sport of choice), because that would require another person to play with, plus a person to watch the kids. That's not going to happen anytime soon. I know it's just a Phase of Life, but I don't want to get huge in the meantime! REALLY... Report
What a beautiful video - it's hard to think of it as a commercial! And a lovely, memorable blog, Nicole. It's one I'll want to read again and again. Both you and "Writefromhome" put words to my feelings. Thank you. Report
I'm not at the point were I enjoy exercise but I am at the point were I need to do something every day. I can't sleep without a walk first, if the grandgirls are playing I have to be their jungle gym, and I find myself doing jumping jacks or with a jumprope in my hand every time I turn on the TV. Babysteps. Report
How about you?
What does exercise mean to you?
For me I still exercise because of the health benefits. I have not come to love it. I set goals, because we are encourage to do so.
How has it affected your life?
I can do more, feel better. This was a wonderful Blog Thanks Nicole.
I get up early so that I can walk. There are some days that I don't want to get out of bed but then I remember that I am not doing myself, or my dogs for that matter, any real good by staying in bed. I enjoy walking with my dogs and my friends (I have 2 walking partners) This gives me time to converse with others, watch the sunrise and gives me the energy that I need during the day Report
I used to hate working out & made every excuse not to. My daughter was really annoyed with me about this as she looked at my huge stomach. Now the stomach is much smaller & I've lost over 35 lbs. Working out is something I now enjoy & look forward to. My main goal is to get in fantastic shape; losing weight is a side effect of that. Report
Six weeks ago, exercise was something that I dreaded doing. I made excuses for not going walking or trying any other type of exercise. Now my morning walk has become a necessary need. I look forward to my time walking. It is the time that is just for me. I don't have to think about anything if I don't want to. Slowly, I am trying new exercises as my body is becoming stronger and more flexible. I still have to work on that coordination thing before taking a class. Report
For me it's all about being healthy and strong. The "side-effect" of looking good is just a bonus. Report
I hope I feel like this one day. I feel a little like I'm wasting time while I'm exercising. I just think of all the things that I should be doing instead. Even though I do know how important exercise is I still have problems doing it. Thanks for the great blog! Very inspiring!!! Report
I love everything about exercise. I love pushing myself, feeling strong, breaking past old boundaries, and discovering just how powerful I can be. Exercise, and all of the adventures I've built around it (overnight hiking trips, races, day-long bike rides, kayaking with 25 campers), have changed my life in the best ways possible! Report
At the beginning of the year, at 320 pounds, I hated exercise. I sat in front of the satellite TV and played a computer game for hours a day. I knew I needed to make some changes, so I got rid of the satellite TV and the computer games. I forced myself to exercise at first and I hated it.

But now that I have forced myself to push through the tough days, I actually enjoy and look forward to a workout. I am disappointed when something comes up in my schedule that keeps me from a Zumba class or if the weather is too treacherous to get out and walk a 5K.

And I disagree with the author on one point only: for me, the Biggest Loser has been a source of inspiration. Yes, the workouts on there look very demanding; but they show me where I will be someday as I also lose weight. I'm losing it a lot slower than they are, but I'm not stupid. I realize the circumstances are different and I am totally content with my slow - but steady - weight loss. When I watch the Biggest Loser, I see what I can push myself to, the kinds of exercises I can explore and try. It is easy for a lot of people - including myself - to take one look at me and start giving me limits. The Biggest Loser inspires me to stops looking at my limits and start contemplating my potential. Report
Whether on the treadmill or outdoors on a beautiful day, exercise is 'my time' . It is my challenge to myself. It is my time to be proud of myself, not only for what I accomplish week after week, but for my commitment to make it happen. Again, and again and again. It is my time to shine in my own eyes. Report
Love doing my 3.75 miles per day on the treadmill! Hate it when I miss it.

When I started SP this past January, I had been doing NO exercise for several years, and dreaded doing it.

Now I LOVE it. Exercise adds so much that is positive to my life. I lost 10 pounds, and am starting to really like the way my body looks and feels.

I love walking on my treadmill, and am constantly setting new upper limits.

For me, exercise is now JOY instead of DREAD! Report
When I started to read I thought you were talking about me. Report
Awesome post. Like a lot of folks here I started this process to lose weight. And I've been successful (-75 pounds). That seems like quite an acheivement by anyones standards but I think the biggest change in me has been remembering how great it is to be in my body. To feel my muscles working, to enjoy the rhythm of my breath on a long run. The transformation from "have to" work out to "want to" workout has been life altering for me. I know how my body works now. Eventually I'll be down 100lbs. At one time that would have been the measure by which I marked by success but now it is much more about the physical challenges seek out and how it feels when I hit a new strengh milestone or learn to enjoy a new yoga pose. Once the thought of running even a quarter of a mile would have sent me to the couch with a quart of ice cream now I can't wait to get my shoes on and see if I can improve my pace. Thanks so much to SparkPeople for inspiring me and helping me stick with it. I can officially say I prefer endorphines to mint chocolate chip now. :) Report
exercise makes me feel alive and kickin...and know who I Am.. Report
Exercise is part of my life. It's daily activity that I choose to do to improve my life. I can't imagine going through a day without at least 15 consecutive minutes of it. Exercise makes me alert and energized to live my life to its fullest. It helps me maintain a positive attitude on my journey to better health. Report
Exercise makes my blood flow, and helps to make me feel more alive. I love to be aware of my body. Once you make a habit of moving your body, every day, you want to keep moving it. I have a lot more confidence when i exercise, than when I don't. Report
I have come to LOVE working out. I try to put variety in my workouts so that I will not lose interest. This is my Lifetstyle change. I love it all but mainly walk/run & strength train on the regular. I also enjoy Dancing, Kickboxing, Aerobics, Mini Tramp Work & Much more. When my journey started it was a chore but I became a work out lover. It's in my Life to stay! I decided to JUST DO IT! Report
I used to HATE, I mean HATE to exercise. I hated sweating, I hated breathing hard, I hated making my muscles work and feel strained. Running was probably one of the worst things I could think to do. I remember when I was in college, a couple of my friends were very fit and into running and exercise. They used to invite me all the time...I never, not once in 5 years went with them.

Now, if I go more than a day without doing something, anything, I feel HORRIBLE. I am not saying that getting to the gym is always the easiest thing to do. Sometimes I am tired, lazy, or just don't care. But once I am there, and especially after I am done the workout-oh how wonderful I feel. It is my place to be just for ME. It is my sanity in an otherwise insane world! It is how I challenge myself to try new things. It is when I push my body to limits I never knew it could go.

I LOVE exercise! Report
I used to look forward to my exercise, but now that I have physical problems, it is less enjoyable, always painful to some extent. I feel a bit better every day that I do my physical therapy and exercise routines and I stick with it as religiously as possible. I have missed one day since February first! I actually tend to push myself too far, so I am learning to listen to my body (and saved Nicole's blog on that topic).

I never did care for most athletic activities They are not fun for me. I do like working with dumbbells and am trying to find cardio I can do. Right now I focus on walking briskly as often as possible and as far as I can without severe pain. I used to like bike riding and hope to resume as my physical condition and family responsibilities permit. Interesting video but I couldn't read the red words and didn't relate to the video at all. Sorry. Just the way I feel. I am in pain every day and choose exercise as one of my tools for managing the pain.

This is so true. I started exercsing regularly at a young age (15 yrs. old), and while I was never "skinny" I did it because it made me feel good.
A few years ago I upped my intensity (thanks to Jillian Michaels videos) and w/the combination of a better diet I lost the extra weight I was carrying around. Now I like to challenge myself with tough DVDs and try new workouts. I'm more confident to try new things, and I'm not so hung up about when I "fail" at them - I know I'm strong in other aspects, so I it doesn't bother me if I struggle with other things (like tennis or volleyball, or any sports really).
High-intensity exercise has also been a life-saver for me dealing with anxiety/depression issues. I've been able to be med-free for a couple years now, and I know the workouts I do help me deal with stressors in my life.
Exercise has helped me to focus inward, and reveal the "real" me. I love the increased energy, mental clarity, and awareness of my body. It empowers, uplifts, transforms, and brings me better sleep. Report
Exercise is my Best Friend,the day I don't do any workout I don't feel happy, so I do workout every day, and feel happy every day,I would say I am a exercise junkie. and I am seeing wonderful Result from it, I am feeling better about my self. Report
I like to workout to help me sleep and generally feel better. I have new friends that I would not have if I stayed home. Report
I enjoy working out because it makes me feel good during and after the exercise. The weight loss and physical fitness as well as lower BP and heart rate are added benefits that keep me motivated. It's a positive cycle! Report
I agree--exercise doesn't just begin with your body--you have to stretch and strengthen your mind, too, to get the full effects and get better at it. I do look forward to it now! As a "right-brained" bookworm with a strong creative bent and high tendencies toward nerdiness, physical activity didn't usually play into my day's goals. Now, though, I'm finding that exercise makes my body feel the way my heart and mind do when they're challenged and happy and satisfied. I' Report
I definitely agree with you on exercise - I can't imagine a life without it. My passion is to go out on my bike and enjoy the views. I set up goals via charity events so I have a purpose as well as enjoyment. Currently I'm training for the Colorado MS-150 at the end of June. But I also mix up my exercise constantly. I love Zumba, step classes and took my first Kick-boxing class this week. The benefits of exercise are amazing! Report
Exercise has absolutely become something I WANT to do. I'm so glad the days of "have to" are over. It's liberating. :) Report
While it's great that it burns calories, I mainly do exercise now for the mental benefits. I do it to lift the fog and to get energy. It also really helps me get to sleep at night! Report
I hate exercise because afterwards i hurt all in my lower back. I have a bad back problem ever since I hurt my back several years ago at my job. I have since learned that I have fibromyalgia to so that doesn't help the situation. So for me when I exercise I don't feel so great, but the doctor's tell me I would probably feel worse if I didn't. Report
I hate exercise I can not seem to get into motion I tell myself its for my own good but I just do not care Report
Exercising makes me feel so much better physically, as well as better about myself. When I skip exercising, I'm just not as energetic. But it wasn't always that way - it took me a while to stop hating it, but once I did, I never looked back. Report
Exercise has become a part of my life. I crave it like chocolate most days. I can sit for a day but the next day it's like Poe's Raven tap tap tapping on my cranium's door. "Gotta move! You have been sitting too long and too much! Get up! You will feel better! You know this!" And then Leslie Sansone is always there in spirit saying, "Have you ever worked out and said, 'I wish I hadn't done that.?!' " Report
Good video. It illustrates how exercise can realistically fit into our lives, making us stronger and healthier. I am not always motivated to exercise every time, but I can say when I am feeling lazy and I push myself to get going, I am always happy I did. It makes me feel so much better physically and mentally. Report
I exercise nearly every day. I don't love to exercise, but miss it on days when I don't! Report
Yesterday I was having a tough day snapping at the kids for every little thing and just feeling yucky. I hadn't had time to exercise the day before and hadn't done any exercise yet that day. I finally set the kids up with a project they could do on their own and I escaped to the garage for some cardio and then some strength training. I was feeling bad about my program because I actually gained 2 lbs and I was just in a bad place. When I finally got to my exercising I was able to contemplate my actions towards my kids and my general attitude and the chemicals got flowing and I started to really feel better. I came in and apologized to the kids and turned the day around. My kids notice that mommy is more patient and loving when I take my time to exercise. Exercise is my magic pill and it doesn't have any bad side effects and it's free. Thanks for the blog. This advertisement is awesome and that is a miracle to say that an advertisement is good.
Great commercial!! I have always loved the challenge and the "me" time of exercise. Now that I have lost weight through tracking my eating and my daily steps, exercise is even more of a daily joy. Anything is possible, just one step at a time! Report
I'm not quite to this point yet, but I'm getting there. Getting started on my workout is still a small struggle, but once I finish, it is great. I always ask myself "Why did I dread it?" Great blog. Report
In the past whenever I started an exercise program, I quickly burned out and after a while found "more important" things I"had" to do and time was an issue. But when I started Spark and slowly built up a program- I became addicted! I feel really lost when I can't get my workouts in. I feel better at 64 than I ever have before in my life! Report
Exercise brings me a challenge - I like to push myself to boundaries just to see if I can do it and there is nothing more satisfying than not only just "making it" through a routine, but to excel at it. The endorphins are a major boost too - I'm just way more calm and feel utterly refreshed afterwards. Days when I don't do exercise are days where I keep thinking, "Damn, I wish today was a workout day" lol Report
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