My Father, at age 83, joined a gym for the first time in his life three months ago. This surprising revelation was awe-inspiring and a testament that it’s never too late to start a new hobby.
In our conversations since joining the gym, he often comments that his energy level is higher, his mood is more positive and he has a sharper focus mentally. The overall stimulation seems to have energized his entire wellbeing, positively affecting his Mind, Body and Soul. It was a great reminder to me that the gym experience not only activates the Body, but also can do wonders for the Mind and Soul too. Sure, he loves sharing his exercise routine with me and curious on how to improve it but the conversation quickly turns to how his workout makes him feel, the many intangible benefits that he receives. It has elevated his spirits, to the point where he claims it to the be the highlight of his day.
But it didn’t start out this way. Typically, it takes 30 days to adapt to a new habit (similarly, breaking a habit takes 30 days of commitment to stop). His first few days were challenging as his body was rebelling, he was frustrated trying to learn the machines and felt a little overwhelmed and isolated. But gradually, with resolve and tenacity, his level of comfort increased with each passing day as the gym became a consistent new pattern for him.
As he shared his stories and continuous progress with me, I summarized the amazing benefits that he was experiencing which just further inspired him. Exercise boosts our Endorphin levels, our body’s natural hormones, and as they get released we feel that ‘runner’s high’ which elevates our moods even long after our workout is over. Our cardiovascular health improves, which allows us to have greater endurance throughout the day; when it’s easier to do your daily activities, you naturally feel more energized. He was so shocked to have more energy after a workout, thinking it would deplete him.
In addition to the obvious benefits he was feeling, there are many intangible advantages increasingly supported by new research. Exercise has been proven to slow the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. It may improve cognitive function, including concentration, and offer improved attention and short-term memory tasks. Insomniacs, like my Father, will tell you they get a better nights sleep when on a consistent exercise program as your whole body clock gets reset.
The power of social activity plays a huge role in boosting your mood as being with like-minded individuals working towards a common goal in a closed environment can not be overstated. My Father talks exuberantly of the new friends he’s made and the stories he’s learned. The mental stimulation and the feeling of belonging to a group should not be underestimated when it comes to mental health and wellness. The social aspect plays a huge role in boosting your mood as loneliness and social isolation are important factors that can lead to depression and low self-esteem.
Joining a gym is not just about bulging biceps or running on a treadmill. It often can be a holistic transformation that can positively affect Mind, Body and Soul and overall wellbeing touching all aspects of life. Just ask my Father, 83 years young.