The Role of Fitness in a Balanced Life
When you lead a busy life, your days can be incredibly hectic. You may struggle to juggle responsibilities at home and work and end up sacrificing time spent on hobbies or self-improvement just to meet the demands of your overstuffed schedule. Time can feel like a scarce commodity, and when you find a rare free moment, you may be tempted to spend it in front of the television.
Oftentimes, life can feel like less of a healthy balance of priorities and more of a big, stressful balancing act. It can be all too easy to scoff at the prospect of a rewarding sense of balance, seeing a balanced life as unrealistic and unattainable without. However, you don’t have to make enormous sacrifices of time and energy to achieve balance.
It is possible to achieve a healthy sense of balance in your life, and it can start with making time for physical exercise. Adding an exercise regimen into your daily life when you’re already busy may sound counterintuitive at first. You’ve got enough on your plate, why pile on more stress? According to new research, exercise may be the key to unlock a fulfilling and balanced life.
A study published in the Harvard Business Review explains that a planned and purposive exercise habit not only works wonders for your physical health, but can help you achieve a greater sense of balance between your personal and professional lives. This research pointed to the physical benefits of exercise, which you may already be familiar with, and pointed to the importance of your physical and psychological health in achieving a balanced life.
What Does it Mean to Lead a Balanced Life?
The definition of a balanced life may vary from one person to the next. Having a balanced life can look like devoting equal amounts of time and energy to a career and a family. For other people, true balance means maintaining a strong, physiological connection between the mind, body and spirit. For people who are in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction, a balanced life can mean regaining physical strength through daily exercise. Regardless of how you define a balanced life, it can still be difficult to maintain balance in your everyday life.
It’s important to realize that a balanced life isn’t necessarily separate from a busy life. For many people in the Harvard Business Review study, balance entails making time for self-improvement while meeting daily responsibilities. Obligations at work and home did not change in frequency but achieving balance meant creating harmony between priorities, with fitness being one priority that truly paid off.
How Does Physical Fitness Help You Achieve a Sense of Balance?
It can be all too easy to forget about fitness when you feel overwhelmed with the stress of deadlines, caring for a family and meeting all manner of other obligations. However, when you make time for exercise, a pivotal shift happens: You set aside time for self-improvement. By exercising, you hone a sense of physical well-being, which inevitably boosts your mental health, too. Together, your physical and mental health form the foundation for a balanced life.
Exercise improves your physical and mental health and empowers you to lead a balanced life. Here’s the breakdown of how this happens:
- Exercise Is a Powerful Stress-Reliever: Stress can be an unavoidable part of maintaining your daily life. Your obligations can pile up quickly, and as a result, your stress can add up fast, too. Without realizing it, you can carry this stress in your muscles and joints. Physical exercise helps you release pent-up stress and loosen tense muscles. If you make exercise a priority in your week, you’ll be able to de-stress on a regular basis, which can improve your mental health and better equip you to handle stress at work and home. Most types of cardio, strength training, endurance exercises and yoga practices can help you relieve stress. To reap the full benefits of stress relief through exercise, the key is to pick a physical fitness activity and dedicate time to it every week.
- Physical Fitness Increases Self-Efficacy: When you make progress with your fitness goals, you build self-efficacy, or a healthy sense of competence and confidence. Self-efficacy is the perception that you can handle life’s hurdles with grace, and it can mean the difference between seeing an assignment as an insurmountable difficulty or an accomplishable challenge. By working out consistently, you’ll not only prove to yourself that you’re capable of keeping a routine, but that you can achieve the goals that you set for yourself. As you focus on your physical fitness, you’ll grow your sense of self-efficacy and cultivate a mindset of confidence in your professional and personal lives.
- A Regular Exercise Regimen Encourages Other Healthy Choices: Exercise is a healthy habit that requires you to evaluate your health and make changes as necessary. When you start exercising regularly, you’ll likely notice a natural domino effect of healthy choices in your life. By taking care of your physical health, you’ll begin to notice other areas that could be improved, such as your drinking habits and diet. For example, working out requires you to hydrate your body, so you might start replacing alcoholic drinks with water or other hydrating beverages in the evenings. To ensure your body has the right fuel, you may start to make healthier meal choices every week, and stock your kitchen with healthy options for pre-workout snacks and foods that help your body recover faster.
Remember: Achieving Balance Is a Lifelong Pursuit
Everyone has a different definition of a balanced life, but no matter how you choose to view it, keep in mind that a balanced life isn’t something you can achieve once and then automatically keep forever. Leading a balanced life is not a finite goal, but rather a process that takes practice.
Achieving a sense of balance in every area your life is a goal you can work toward every day and maintaining your physical fitness can help. If you get discouraged during your workout sessions or you don’t see the results you want right away, remember that physical fitness takes time, and your overall wellness is always a work in progress. A balanced life may not be easy to maintain, but it is attainable when you make fitness a priority.