7 shocking facts that will make you never skip a gym session again
Why it pays to work out
There are hundreds of excuses we can make NOT go to the gym. From ‘forgetting’ to bring our running gear, to preferring to watch your favourite movie on TV. But what actually happens when we turn our backs on our fitness and how quickly do things start to slide?
The minute you miss a workout, your body goes into reverse. In other words you start to lose all the benefits that exercise brings. If you miss a week of working out, your muscles start to stiffen up and your heart and lungs lose 5% fitness. Your fat levels start to creep up because your metabolism has slowed and lost around 10% of its capacity to use oxygen, which ultimately helps us burn calories. From there it’s a slippery downhill slope. Every journey begins with one small step, so make sure your steps take you in the right direction (towards the gym).
An exercise high
When we work out, our bodies releases three chemicals; endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals work in magical ways, to make you feel good after exercise, and they also boost well-being and reduce stress levels. Simply put you feel happier when you’ve done some exercise. Skipping the gym makes you feel grumpy and negative. And you will start to feel moody the minute your regular exercise class starts...without out, so make sure you’re there.
Sleep is affected. Why? Because when you work out, you have more restful sleep. Exercise is brilliant for clearing the head of worries and anxieties. When you’re concentrating on how many reps you can do on the rowing machine, everyday worries go out the window. You tire yourself out physically in the gym, so missing a workout means you are less tired, more stressed and won’t sleep as well. Indeed this is backed up science. A National Sleep Foundation poll found that regular exercisers were much more likely to report good quality sleep the majority of the time. Research has also shown that exercise improves not only the amount of sleep we get but the quality of it too.
What happens when we don’t sleep well?
In the same poll from the National Sleep Foundation, those people who were inactive reported a lower quality and quantity of sleep. Now here’s the rub. When people don’t sleep well they become irritable, low on energy, have poor concentration levels and prone to comfort eat. It also makes you feel extremely negative about working out because your energy levels are so low. But not exercising then impacts on sleep in a negative way. It becomes a vicious circle. Indeed students at Northwestern University discovered that exercise actually helped a group of insomniacs who had all previously been inactive. Doing exercise helped them sleep better. It will do the same for you.
Humans are creatures of habit and like to stick to routines. If we get into the habit of going to the gym we tend to stick it to and enjoy the self esteem it brings us. But, if we skip a session, before you know it, a snowball effect occurs. One missed workout becomes, two, then three, then four and suddenly you have a new habit....of NOT working out. Self esteem plummets as the realisation dawns that you have fallen off the fitness wagon and it can be downhill from there.
If you start to miss your workouts you start to lose your competitive edge. When you push yourself to the limit in the gym it’s between you and the treadmill or you and the rowing machine. You carry those skills with you into everyday life. If you start missing workouts, your ability to compete in life, the workplace, can be diminished. Everyone needs an edge and going to the gym or working out gives us that edge. Without it, we lose our focus.
Long term benefits
A workout isn’t just for today, it’s for life. What does that mean? Well, the long term benefits of keeping a regular exercise routine are huge. If you’re fit and healthy you are laying the foundations for a long and healthy life, with good circulation, a healthy heart, greater flexibility of the muscles and joints and an improved quality of life. You start to jeopardise all of that when you skip a gym session.