The Importance of Physical Fitness

Article Courtesy of Sheila Olson of |

The Wellness Balance: Fitting in Fitness with Self-Care - scene from a gym with free weights

People are much more sedentary than we need to be and it’s not just in the United States. Societies all over the world clock in less than an average 5,000 steps a day. Modern conveniences and technology make it less necessary to be active throughout the day. That’s why it is so important to make a concerted effort toward physical fitness. Getting enough exercise has plenty of benefits:

  • Improves mortality
  • Decreases risks of illness including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer
  • Balances hormones and neurotransmitters
  • Supports healthy development
  • Prevents muscular and osteo-degeneration
  • Improves mental health and alleviates feelings of depression
  • Reduces the chances of becoming overweight or obese
  • Promotes social well-being
  • Improves sleep

Self-Care: Not Always Pretty

Self-care is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a term we use to encapsulate all the things we do for ourselves to promote optimal physical, mental and emotional health. Sometimes self-care is fun; it’s things like bubble baths, spending time with friends, looking at inspirational quotes and doing yoga. Other times, self-care is not so Instagram-worthy. Often it means confronting difficult emotions, banal activities like going to the dentist for a teeth cleaning and cleaning the kitchen even though you really don’t feel like it.

In a nutshell, self-care refers to all the things you have to do as an adult to work toward your most favorable wellness. No matter how you feel about exercise, working on your physical fitness is an important element of self-care. You might not always want to do it, but it’s a necessary activity you have to do if you want to live your healthiest and happiest life.

The Dark Side of Fitness Culture

Exercise can help you lose weight, build muscle and look great overall. The problem is, many people see the highly edited and stylized content pumped out by marketing people trying to sell things to the fitness crazed and they assume that is the ideal. The goal of exercise shouldn’t be to change yourself to be some sort of unrealistic image. However, some people become obsessed with fitness for unreal intentions.

Furthermore, people with addictive personalities face specific challenges when it comes to fitness. While experts generally advise those in addiction recovery to start a fitness regimen to help promote physical and mental fitness, it’s not unheard of for people to simply replace their old habits with exercise and become unhealthily addicted to it.

Common signs of exercise addiction include:

  • An obsession with body image
  • Over-regulation and restriction of diet
  • Compulsive exercising
  • Ignoring a negative consequences of exercise, such as injury
  • Exercise interferes with social life
  • Loss of sleep
  • Withdrawal symptoms like anxiety

Self-Care for Balance and a Healthy Mindset

When you find a way to work both exercise and self-care into your lifestyle, you open doors for health and happiness. One of the keys to finding balance is practicing mindfulness through different types of meditation. Practicing mindfulness allows a person to observe their actions and recognize their true motivations. It allows them to be honest with themselves and have better control over their behaviors.

If you find yourself slipping into dangerous behaviors due to body image issues or exercise addiction, one avenue to consider is finding a psychologist or therapist that specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT therapists help patients recognize their core beliefs and how they affect their thoughts and emotions, which in turn, influence their actions. With CBT, people struggling with fitness addiction can figure out their true motivations behind over-exercising and modify their behavior, so fitness can once again be a healthy part of their lifestyle.


Physical fitness helps people live healthier and happier lives. However, sometimes people over-do it when it comes to exercise as a reaction to difficult emotions and core beliefs. Self-care techniques including a mindfulness practice and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help people recognize these emotions and beliefs, so they can better control erratic and impulsive behaviors.


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