Your exercise routine can be the perfect excuse for some alone time.
As an introvert, one of the many comforts of my day is having a routine. Or, more specifically, my routine. For me, this involves waking up as early as I can (some days are better than others) — and, after a few hygiene and hydration steps, I exercise.
As a father, husband, and corporate employee by day, it’s not always easy to stick to my routine and ensure I have my exercise time. But, over the years, I’ve learned how vital it is. Afterward, I emerge sweaty and physically tired, yet rejuvenated and ready for my day. And as each day comes to a close, I look forward to my exercise time the following day. It’s a self-care ritual I won’t skip.
Why is it so important? Am I some kind of exercise freak? No, definitely not. But it is ingrained in my routine and I know I draw so many benefits from it. If I don’t do it, I know I’ll regret it, and my day will not feel right.
Exercise Is Subjective — It Doesn’t Have to Mean Going to a Crowded Gym
In this article, I want to share with you some of the ways that you can benefit from planning some exercise time each day. Some of these benefits took longer for me to realize than others, but I think all of them offer great rewards to the “quiet ones” among us.
One other important point to note: The term “exercise” immediately conjures up many wild and wicked images to the imaginative mind. Pain and suffering in a crowded gym. Toned abs. Restrictive diets. Group fitness classes. Banish all these images from your mind.
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Exercise begins with finding something that suits you — your personality, style, schedule, budget, and resources. It can be going to the gym, exercising at home, using bodyweight movements, yoga, pilates, walking, running, hiking, a sport of some kind, and the list goes on. The key is to move and to find something that is you. That’s it.
Why Introverts Should Have an Exercise Routine
1. It’s the perfect excuse for some alone time — an excuse that even extroverts will accept.
If you’re among family and friends — and often feel like you are the lone introvert in a group of extroverts — I completely understand. Many a time, I have declared to my household that “I need alone time!!” to which they ask “To do what?” When I say I don’t want to do anything, just be alone, I’m met with suspicious looks and a distinct lack of understanding.
But no one questions my exercise time. And I exercise alone. Using my exercise time as my alone time means, for those around me who may not understand my introvert ways, exercising is a perfectly legitimate activity. This way, they can understand when I disappear to have my workout time.
In the modern world, it presents as “productive use of your time,” something you are gaining benefit from and something completely “normal” (unlike introvert alone time, unfortunately). But it is alone time for me and time I cherish.
So if you declare you’re off for a walk, hike, or yoga session (even on your own), you’ll find you’ll face less resistance and fewer questions.
2. Introverts tend to “live in their heads,” but exercise will strengthen your connection to your physical body.
As introverts, we have a very rich and busy inner world — a mind that buzzes all the time. Often, our preference is to use our time to occupy our minds or to immerse it in the things we love. But what about our bodies? Do we have the same connection to our physical being?
Exercise, which in simple terms is movement, helps our introverted selves form a strong bond between the body and the mind. You become more aware of bodily movement, coordination, exertion, effort, fatigue, and yes, pain to some degree (in a good way). Your concept of self expands from the conversations you have in your head to the presence and sensations in your torso, limbs, hands, and feet. (Everywhere, really.) Once you start exercising and feel that energy start to pulse through your whole body, you will be in awe of your sensation of self.
3. Exercise will quiet the swirling thoughts in your head.
Being an introvert isn’t always having calm, soothing moments of peace and tranquility. I know firsthand. I can be sitting by myself in a quiet room and the internal sound of the many thoughts and voices rushing through my head can be overwhelming. And it can be hard to escape what’s inside you. But that’s where I have found exercise to be an amazing tool to help calm my internal introvert mania.
When you exercise, or do any kind of physical activity, you have to put some of your thought and focus into what you are doing. Even seemingly mundane and repetitive activities, like walking or jogging, require a level of focus. This need to focus and direct the mind toward something other than your internal self helps quiet those voices and buzzing thoughts.
Often when I exercise, I mull through problems, ideas, and thoughts in my head — and work through them as I am working out my body. So much so that I keep a notebook with me when I am exercising so I can jot down thoughts and ideas as they come to me. I find exercising gives me that moment of clarity, and when I finish, my mind is quiet.
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4. Exercise helps clear cortisol, the stress hormone, from your system.
Have you ever had those really stressful moments, when there is a significant impending problem you need to deal with, a big mistake you’ve made, or something very challenging you need to face? It’s a terrible, gut-wrenching feeling. But what else do you notice in those moments? Do you sweat? Does your heart race? Do you start pacing or fidgeting? Start burning lots of energy? It’s a lot like exercising.
In fact, intense exercise also releases cortisol, the stress hormone, into your body. This is the same hormone you release when you’re stressed about other everyday things, like work, a relationship, or finances. But here’s the difference: With exercise, once you stop, the cortisol starts to drop and is replaced by the release of endorphins in the body, nature’s feel-good hormones. With stress, without exercise, the cortisol can remain in your system for long periods of time and isn’t replaced by endorphins.
I know, if you’ve got a real problem on your shoulders, the last thing you feel like doing are some yoga stretches or going for a challenging hike.
But do it.
Not only will the alone time and activity help you think more clearly, but you’ll help your body clear the stress hormones from your system — you’ll get a natural hit of feel-good endorphins. And the physical activity will help you sleep better, too, further bringing your stress levels down.
5. You’ll come to appreciate those quiet, still moments even more.
While we all love our introvert “nothing” moments — those precious pieces of time where we’re reading, researching, thinking, or letting our mind wander, all in peaceful solitude — our bodies need something more. We need to move. The human body was made to move and thrives with movement. While we may take great efforts to guard our mental health, it is vitally important that we take steps to ensure our physical health is equally balanced, too.
Can you still enjoy those quiet days on the couch with your favorite book? Absolutely. But make sure you’ve balanced it with an invigorating, long walk through nature, up and down a few hills, keeping a good pace all the while. But, yes, still enjoy your peace and solitude. When you eventually get back to your couch and book, you’ll feel a hundred times more rejuvenated and alive — you’ll probably even appreciate the book, cozy couch, and your comfort a whole lot more.
Introverts, did I miss anything? Feel free to add more benefits of exercise in the comments below!
You might like:
- How Movement Can Help Introverts ‘Cure’ Overthinking
- Why Ritual May Be an Introvert’s Most Important Form of Self-Care
- 6 ‘Weird’ Things Introverts Do That Are Actually Completely Normal
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