Will Work Out for Mental Health

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I've been officially active for about 10 years now. I came back from a semester at college noticeably-to-others more overweight than I left, complete with comments from people who usually don't notice. Obviously, I had to do something about it. A friend was redeeming a free weeks' pass at a local gym, and she was given a free pass for a guest. After a week, I signed up and the rest is ... well, you know.

Obviously, dramatic changes happened right from the get-go. I lost the Freshmen, ahem, 15. I felt more energetic and I even got sick less. I'd get one cold every few weeks in the winter pre-fitness and maybe one per year in my post-sedentary life.

However, other changes happened that were less noticeable at the beginning. Most recently, I experienced a few days' sabbatical from working out. While some might roll their eyes at this, it is a big deal for me. More so than I thought. For instance, last week, due to a business trip in the middle of the week, I went from Monday clear through to Saturday without breaking an exercise-induced sweat. Let me tell you, my mental health did not benefit. By Friday, I was noticeably moody. Saturday morning I worked out, and the difference was profound. Same kind of thing happened the week before. I fell into a funk that only running for at least 30 minutes straight could remedy.

It's official, I'm addicted to endorphins. My husband rolled his eyes at me when I insisted that I needed to get on the treadmill, stat. I told him, "Honey, this is not for my looks. This is for my mental and emotional health." He did not stop me or say anything more after that. Probably because he was the primary victim of the exercise-deprived villain within me. Someone I hadn't known myself until fitness became my way of life.

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