Everyone knows that eating well and exercising is good for you. But many people don’t realize how bad not doing these things are for you. Say you work a lot, you come home to chores, kids, etc, and you generally feel tired pretty much all of the time. Probably the last thing on your mind is cooking a gourmet meal or hitting the gym. However, the catch is, eating that box of Hamburger Helper while sitting in front of the TV really isn’t going to make you feel any better– not in the long run anyhow. The right foods, sufficient exercise, and proper sleep are vital to feeling well.

How exactly does diet and exercise transform us? Here are some benefits:

  • Regulate your energy levels by eating foods rich in iron and B vitamins, and by regulating your blood sugar. Having blood sugar that is either too high or too low can make you feel tired, anxious and irritable
  • Improve your cardiovascular health and reduce your risk of a heart attack with exercise as well as eating healthy fats and vitamin C
  • Excluding caffeine from your diet can help alleviate anxiety, and symptoms such as stomach aches and headaches
  • Omega-3, which can be found in fish, and other healthy fats and oils, like avocados, can help prevent and alleviate symptoms of depression
  • Vitamin B-6 and exercise both increase dopamine production, which is a feel-good chemical that our brain releases. For this reason, exercise is helpful for many people recovering from addiction, whose brains are no longer producing sufficient dopamine without taking drugs or alcohol
  • Exercise alleviates stress and anxiety by increasing norepinephrine production
  • People who exercise are generally more self-confident, regardless of their body type
  • Exercise releases endorphins which reduce pain and increase our feelings of pleasure
  • Exercise increases the production of brain cells and improves brain function
  • Exercise raises your body temperature, followed by a cooling down period. Your body relaxes as it cools down, making it easier for those with insomnia to get some rest
  • It makes sense that since exercise increases brain performance that it also increases the brain’s creative power, so get moving to unlock your potential!

So all of these benefits sound great, but how does someone who is so busy and stressed and fatigued get started? It can be hard to start such a journey on your own, so try what other successful people have found to help: enlist the help of others. Get your family involved. Join a gym or take a class and make a schedule for yourself when you will be there. Join discussion groups with recipes or nutrition information. Check Pinterest for new tricks and ideas. Maybe arrange some positive peer pressure by getting a group of friends together and setting a group goal (i.e. weight loss or going to the gym 3x a week) and have everyone put $10 or so in a pot for the winner at the end of the challenge. No matter how you choose to do it, having others involved in your goal-setting helps to keep you accountable. Remember, your body is a system, and so any small change you make will have a ripple effect which will start to transform more and more things, and before you know it, you will be on a healthier, happier path.


Cindy Klimaszewski is the Graduate Counseling Intern with in the Stepping Stones program at Step By Step Counseling, LLC.