By now most everyone is aware of the physical benefits of working out. The benefits to our heart, blood pressure, muscles & bones, and general overall well being have been well documented by science. Many people also attribute breaking a sweat to be a "mood booster" - the release of endorphins after a long run or a satisfying spin class can be just what the doctor ordered after a long stressful day. But lately, I have been fascinated by the way an awesome workout can serve as therapy. There is a certain cathartic experience when you lose yourself in a class or a workout and leave it all on the treadmill or on the mat. Faced with tough decisions or just trying life circumstances, sometimes can tempt us to retreat, to pull back on the things that give us pleasure. But I have found that when stress and difficult times are dialed up in my life, that is exactly the time I need to match that crescendo in the gym. Does it actually solve any of my problems? No. But it does leave me feeling powerful, in control, and clear headed. I feel strong. Life is not happening to me, I am a force within it. I am channeling my physical strength and converting it into mental - and I would be surprised if one therapy session with a psychologist brings the same feeling of well being that conquering a bad ass workout does.
Now, I am not professing that boutique fitness studios should replace psychoanalysis. But what I am saying, is that the mental & emotional benefits of exercise, and the ability it has to drastically improve our outlook and sense of self are extremely powerful and perhaps even overlooked. Of course there are serious and real issues that only a therapist can work through. There are many times when professional help is needed to work through many situations and difficulties. But I really believe in the power of the individual. I believe strongly that we are equipped with so many tools inside of us and we need to realize the power we each have, rather than constantly seek outward for solutions. How great would it be that when therapists prescribed drugs, they also prescribed exercise? Same with our other doctors. How amazing would it be if we could submit part of our Barry's Bootcamp, Rumble or Soul Cycle bills to our Medical Insurer?
Those times when life seems to feel like its out of control, we need to realize that in fact, we are in control. Of course you cannot control health, other people, random circumstances, etc. But you can control how you react, and what you do to improve the situation. And where you sit with yourself, how you feel, how your mind works, these are all things that breaking a good and healthy sweat can have a positive impact on. You run you. No one else. The most important thing to remember is that sometimes, a better moment/day/week/month/life - is just a couple of sweats away.