Why Do We Workout? Really. Why?

Why do we workout? As we wake up before dawn to put on our running shoes, or go to CrossFit, or jump into the pool, or step onto the treadmill in the basement, or roll out our yoga mat, many of us are asking this question. Why? Why are we doing this? Why do we workout?

Anyone who works out will answer this question differently. A runner might wax poetic about runner’s high, a swimmer might tell you about endurance, and yogi might talk to you about calm or maybe the famous “yoga butt,” a CrossFitter might talk about community and strength. The answers are as various as the practitioners. But in the pre-dawn dark, the question persists. Why? Why not get back under the covers?

Well, your doctor will tell you that working out can help you lose weight, reduce your blood pressure, and relieve stress. She’ll tell you that it will help you maintain a healthy body weight and prevent certain diseases. She may even tell you that exercise will forestall the onset of dementia and prevent heart disease.

And so we workout. We do it for our looks. We do it for our lungs. We do it for our love-handles. We do it for our mood, for better sleep, for improved memory and creativity. We do it because we know we should. But are good looks and good health really all there is to it? Are these reasons alone enough to keep us setting our alarm clock for 4:45 every morning? Really? Maybe. Maybe not.

I have a better reason. We workout so that our body is better able to live a joyful life. Why have better love handles or memory or health if not to make more room for joy? This is an important idea to keep top of mind this holiday season of joy.

As we dip into the noodle kugel and latkes and Christmas cookies and cocktails, it is crucial to keep setting your alarm. Keep getting up early and getting on your yoga mat or going to the gym. Your exercise regimen is the best prescription for your soul. So get out of bed and get moving. Commit to 10 minutes each morning during the holidays. If after ten minutes, you really want to give up, go ahead, give up, but do your ten. I’m convinced that once you get those endorphins going, you might even find a little joy in the moment and keep going. Joy is worth it.