How does fitness help relieve stress?
One of the most studied ways to relieve stress and anxiety is the practice of physical activity. According to Harvard Medical School’s Health Watch*, stress doesn’t just have an effect on our minds, it affects our bodies, too. I’m sure you’re familiar with the iconic line from Legally Blonde, where Elle Woods so boldly declares, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t!” Well, Elle was right. Exercise does release endorphins, and it reduces the levels of stress hormones in your body including cortisol and adrenaline which contribute to the heart beating fast, sweaty palm feeling associated with stress. Exercising regularly also helps us look and feel our best, leading to an increase in self-confidence and self-worth.
Let’s face it, though. One of the toughest parts about deciding to add fitness into your daily routine is actually taking the first step. Is it easier to sink into your sectional with a glass of wine after a rough day? 100%. But if that’s your usual coping mechanism and you still feel stressed and anxious afterward, it might be time to switch things up! We fall into comfortable habits because that’s all we know, and it’s what feels safe to us. So while working out may feel like a chore at first and may push you out of your comfort zone, take a chance on yourself. Exercise your power. It’s in there, you may just have to sweat a little to feel it. And after one class- whether it’s yoga, spinning, running, boxing, lifting weights, or Zumba, you will feel a difference. I hope that difference becomes a habit. And I hope that habit becomes your new routine. So it’s not just something you do to feel good, it’s something you do because you look forward to it.
Beyond helping you to look + feel your best, how can a regular fitness routine benefit you pre-wedding?
I’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. Shedding before the wedding. That mindset can go one of two ways. One, you look forward to your regular fitness routine because it keeps you balanced and helps you relieve some wedding planning stress. Or, you see this fitness not as a routine that helps keep you anchored and grounded, but as something you have to do in order to look good for your wedding. The problem is, not allowing yourself to enjoy exercise can be a stressor all on its own. Instead of allowing for internal healing, you view exercise as the only way to achieve outward confidence on your wedding day. You’re placing the value of exercise solely on the physical appearance it provides. But it is so much more than that!
Having a routine that you genuinely enjoy takes the guesswork out of things. By using fitness as a way to prep for your wedding day, you will benefit from physical changes. But more importantly, you will show up in this next phase of your life grounded, self-confident, and empowered to grow. Because it’s not just about looking your best, it’s about feeling your best. Harness Cycle, for many of our riders and team, has become a constant in our lives, a space that is uplifting and energizing. Creating your routine pre-wedding will not only help you to look and feel your best, but it will be an anchor as you experience a major life change.
How does a regular fitness routine impact a relationship? What is an easy way for couples to implement a routine together?
Ultimately, when you feel your best, it’s not just you who feels those good vibes – those around you can sense it as well! I’m not saying people who exercise are better people, partners, or friends, but I think whenever you take time for yourself to reset, recharge and stay grounded, it can have a positive impact on your relationships. It comes down to you feeling your best, not for your significant other, but for yourself. That kind of “me time” is not selfish; it’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself. How can you give love when you lack self-love? How can you give time to others when you can’t give time to yourself? You have to refill your cup first. If your cup is full of stress, you’ll spill stress on those around you. If your cup is full of doubt and self-loathing, those will run over and affect anyone who is a significant part of your life. But when you fill your cup with good things – gratitude, love, compassion, balance – you can share those good things with those around you. That not only strengthens your relationship with yourself but with those around you, especially those you love. It may only take forty-five minutes on a stationary bike to fill up that cup, but if you can look forward to that as part of your routine, it can change your entire perspective.
When it comes to implementing a fitness routine with your significant other, focus less on doing something together and more on encouraging each other to find something that works for each of you. Your partner might want to get swole and you might want to hit up the treadmill, but that doesn’t mean you can’t meet up at the gym together. Or at Harness, we cross train with other groups in the area, especially with our own Running the Bridges every Wednesday. So you can hit up a Harness ride while your partner runs. Even getting involved in Cleveland Plays, where the workout is less about the actual workout and more about having fun and being part of a team. Most importantly though, it’s about supporting and respecting each other. And as age old saying goes… ‘til sweat do us part.