Non-Fitness Benefits of Exercise

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Last week, I received the type of news that you never want to hear. My friend Esther, from Project Awesome, had been involved in a cycling accident, and had tragically died. She was only 32 years old.

I didn’t know Esther that well, however I saw her, hugged her and chatted with her each Wednesday morning as we worked out at The Scoop. Come rain or shine, her smile was one of the brightest. My favourite memory of Esther is from the day she earned her Project Awesome hat for saving a man’s life at work by performing CPR. I only wish her life could have been saved last Thursday.

In times of heartbreak and tragedy, exercising can seem like the furthest thing from you mind. Instead you might want to sit in silence or comfort yourself with food or wine. I am so thrilled to be part of an epic group of people, that instead of just wallowing in sorrow over a life lost, they are celebrating Esther’s life, and all that she loved.

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On Thursday evening, a group of Esther’s friends, family, colleagues and workout companions will be running from Old Street to The Scoop. It will be her 8.5km victory lap.

After hearing the news, I thought about how scared it made me to get back on my own bike and cycle through London, however I know that wouldn’t have been Esther’s attitude. Instead, I decided that I am going to complete the Ride100 this summer, smiling throughout, thinking of her.

Events last week put my exam stress into perspective, but it didn’t take away from the reality that this morning I had to sit a 3 hour Biology exam (my Chemistry is next week). The results of these exams will determine what I do in September, and will have a very real effect on my future. I’ve spent hours revising, writing out notes and memorising diagrams over the past few weeks and weekends. After sleeping badly due to nerves last night, I decided to get up and head to the first day of the Sweaty Betty Blogger bootcamp instead of staring blankly at my notes for another 2 hours.

The workout kicked off a week of activities held at stores and studios across London with the Sweaty Betty team. A group of us will be trying out different activities, and reporting back, so be sure to check out the SBBloggerbootcamp on instagram and twitter! Today’s session was in the Marlyebone shop, and led by the beautiful Hollie aka PilatesPT. Hollie teaches the likes of Deliciously Ella and Melissa Hemsley (of Hemsley and Hemsley).

We started the workout with some mobilisation before being thrown straight into our first 90 second cardio section. I loved the idea of the surfing jump…for the first 10 seconds before the thigh burn started to sink in. Two rounds of cardio later- including 3 jump burpees, and we hit the mat for the first ab round.

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The 30 minute class alternated between cardio and abs/arms workouts that left me dripping in sweat (delightful as I had to head straight to my exam afterwards!). Despite working really hard, the class flew by and gave me something to concentrate on other than last minute nerves. Plus I got to hang out with some of my friends at 7am on a Monday morning, which I always think is awesome.

I love that exercise has so many benefits, not just physical! Here are some other great non-Fitness related benefits of exercise;

  • Stress relieving
  • Endorphins- basically nature’s happy pills!
  • A workout can be a great distraction OR it can give you time to think like on a run or bike ride
  • Great way to catch up with friends
  • Help improve sleep- I always sleep better when I’ve worked out that day
  • Alleviate anxiety
  • Help boost brain power apparently! Studies suggest that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking, and learning.
  • Increase productivity

Often, when our lives become overwhelming and busy, and we’re stressed out with work, or Uni, or family life we let exercise take a back seat. It’s the first thing that gets skipped, or erased from the diary when life gets too much, when really it should be the one thing you do no matter what. Even if it’s just a yoga class, a walk or a gentle swim- there are so many benefits to exercise besides fitness and these shouldn’t be ignored!

I hope you’re having a lovely week, and manage to enjoy some well deserved endorphins!

18 Comments

  1. Andrea
    June 2, 2015 / 1:57 am

    So sorry to hear about your friend and good luck on the rest of your exams. Keep up the hard work!

    • charlotte
      June 2, 2015 / 1:55 pm

      Thank you!!

  2. June 2, 2015 / 5:33 am

    I’m so sorry about your friend as well. I saw your IG pic and it was a good reminder that we have to be very careful when we ride!! Poor girl.

    • charlotte
      June 2, 2015 / 1:55 pm

      I agree- I keep shouting at people that are cycling without helmets. I look like a madwoman!

  3. June 2, 2015 / 9:38 am

    I always mentioned that I started my fitness journey to look good naked, but I discovered that it was so much more..
    Very inspiring blog.
    #sweatpink

    • charlotte
      June 2, 2015 / 1:55 pm

      Thanks Debbie! Looking good naked is just a bonus 🙂

  4. June 2, 2015 / 1:40 pm

    This is very sad to hear. I wondered if you knew her when I read the news reports and they mentioned Project Awesome. I hope exercising, especially the event on Thursday, offers the additional benefits you and the other members need.

  5. June 2, 2015 / 3:23 pm

    So sorry to hear about your friend! How tragic! Great share on exercise benefits…

  6. June 2, 2015 / 5:27 pm

    I’m so very sorry to hear about your friend. Good luck with training for the Ride100 this summer; it’s great that you’re doing it in her honor.

  7. June 2, 2015 / 5:36 pm

    I am so sorry to hear about your friend. But you are so right that exercise has tons of non-fitness benefits. I honestly run to keep myself sane, not to work out! I hope you did well on your exams and are feeling better now that they’re over!

  8. June 3, 2015 / 2:48 am

    sending thoughts and prayers your way

    • charlotte
      June 4, 2015 / 4:07 pm

      Thank you so much Linz. X

  9. June 3, 2015 / 8:48 am

    Sorry to hear about your friend but I’m glad you have the support of your Project Awesome family!

  10. June 3, 2015 / 11:24 am

    So sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. Like many, I picked up this story when it happened, but somehow it makes it more real when you learn of people who knew her. It stops being the impersonal, albeit tragic, statistic and brings it close to home – a realisation that it could happen to any of us. I’ll join you in spirit in your celebration of her life on Thursday, and my thoughts are with Esther’s family and friends.
    Best of luck with your exams.

    • charlotte
      June 4, 2015 / 4:08 pm

      That’s so sweet, thanks Stuart!

  11. June 3, 2015 / 11:36 am

    So sorry to hear about your friend. What a lovely idea to honour her memory, too.

  12. June 5, 2015 / 9:31 pm

    So sorry to hear about your friend. I saw all the tributes to her this week on Instagram, so tragic 🙁

    • charlotte
      June 6, 2015 / 11:05 am

      Thanks Lucy, so so awful. She is missed!

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