Friday, July 17, 2015

Fitness Friday: 6 Benefits of Exercise That Have Nothing to Do With Weight Loss

I think a pulled a hammy.  Actually, I have no idea.  Pretty sure I don't remember doing anything like this either:

A few weeks ago I felt a twinge behind my left knee when I was running.  It felt like someone was snapping a rubber band against the back of my knee!  So bizarre.  OF COURSE, I continued running for the next 2-3 weeks.  It wasn't especially painful and the weird sensation would only last for the first 1/2 mile or so, then fade away.  But it has gotten progressively worse, so I finally decided to take some time off.  Trying to be a good Bean here even though it's driving me UP THE WALL.

The strange thing about the pain is that it isn't present on the back of my thigh at all, where I imagine a hamstring strain would be.  The pain is behind my knee only and has me thinking it is an inflamed tendon/ligament (tendinitis maybe?) at the point of insertion of the hamstring muscle.

Why am I telling you all of this?!  Partially because I want someone out there to tell me what this mystery injury could be.  And partially because it relates to the title of this post!

There are SO many other benefits to working out than just weight loss, or weight maintenance.  Now that I am 'injured' I am acutely aware of all of these benefits and missing them incredibly.  These are some of the beneficial side effects I experience from exercising.  What about you?

Even on days when I'm feeling tired or unmotivated, actually especially on those kinds of days, if I get myself to the gym or fit in some kind of workout, it actually gives me an energy boost.  It sounds counterintuitive but it's a real side effect of movement.  And the cumulative effects of working out regularly lead to a steady state of increased energy.  It's akin to a rock rolling down a hill, picking up more and more momentum with every movement. 

Works with kids, and adults too!  The more you wear yourself out during the day, the more restful your sleep will be at night.  Total nanny knowledge right there.  Even after taking just a few days off, my sleep has been affected.  I am tossing and turning and not sleeping soundly.  I have way too much pent up energy.

Exercise is a natural way to release stress (as opposed to throwing back a fifth of Jack).  If I have a lot on my mind, or am feeling frustrated/angry/etc, running is a HUGE release for me.  But whatever your exercise of choice, working out definitely helps release some of the stress hormones we all tend to accumulate over the course of each day.  Since it's only one of my legs that's affected, I'm considering taking up punching, I mean boxing, for awhile. 

This is somewhat related to #3 but I feel like over the course of a day, there's a lot of 'junk' that builds up in my brain.  And working out has a magical way of clearing that out.  I think if you exercise you will agree, you feel so much sharper and mentally focused right after you work out. I feel like all those little neurons in my brain are firing a mile a minute. I wish I knew the scientific reason for this but I do not. 

One of running's greatest side effects!  Endorphins are nature's pharmaceuticals and working out pumps a bunch of the 'feel-good' hormones right into your bloodstream.  Oh Goddddddddd am I missing runner's high right now.

Working out obviously increases your body confidence, but we're focusing on non-weight related benefits for this post, so I'm talking more about self esteem here.  When you accomplish something physically, it absolutely makes you feel more powerful and self assured about other aspects of your life.  You feel like you can take on the world.  After finishing a half marathon, I almost always feel like I can probably run for President.  Or something like that.

For all of these reasons I hope this hammy, or whatever it is, shapes up and ships off REAL FAST!

How about you?

What non-weight-related benefits do you experience from working out?

Have a great weekend!


  1. Hope you feel better quickly! I think I would add connections - I love to run and exercise with friends. It is more energizing than getting drinks!

    1. Hi Erica! Yes great addition! I love working out with friends. In fact I now have a standing date every Wed with a friend of mine at the gym!

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with your entire list!

    When you say behind your knee, do you mean the back side of your knee in the bend of your leg? Or do you mean behind your kneeCAP? If you meant behind your kneecap, that's most likely bursitis. If you mean behind your knee (that area is called the popliteal fossa)... that could be a few things. Several tendons kind of meet back there, so it could very well be tendinitis in one of them, but even a meniscal tear can sometimes cause pain back there if it's torn in the right spot. I hope it's nothing serious! Take anti-inflammatories while you rest it!

    1. It's def something in the back of my leg, no knee pain. Thank goodness for that. It feels like a tendon or something is strained Bc I get the most pain when I extend or stretch my leg. If I walk around with it kind of bent I get some relief. I should be resting more but I'm not. I need to though Bc it's not really improving. It's just so hard to sit still in summer of all seasons!!!

  3. These are all so true! The mental benefits of running are the best - I love how it keeps me stress free! I hope your leg starts feeling better soon!

    1. Yes! Without exercise I dk how I'd keep my sanity some days! Thanks for your well wishes about my leg!

  4. This is exactly why I need to get myself back to the gym! :-)

    1. Ha! Any kind of exercise works though. Even taking a walk, especially in the summer sun, does so much to make you just feel all-around good!!