As a child growing up, I swam competitively, skied for fun and I ran. I ran when I played kick-the-can on the rocks of Minnicog Island in Georgian Bay. I ran home from playing on the streets when I heard the family fog horn toot 3 times calling me back for dinner. I ran throughout high school and university. I earned some spending money as a ski instructor and a fitness instructor in university. It is no wonder that I studied Kinesiology as my undergraduate degree. When I graduated school, I was hired to set up and run a fitness centre at Northern Telecom in Mississauga. Later, I worked in a hospital as a Cardiology Technologist and I assisted with the Cardiac Rehab program.

My joy was fueled by movement

I have run full and half marathons and I have taught learn to run programs. Exercising for joy and for fitness have been such a huge part of my life. Somehow, over the last few years, I let my need for exercise fall by the wayside and I forgot what an amazing part of my life was fuelled by movement.

Last summer, I was climbing a hill and my back felt so tight I could barely move. I was winded and frustrated. As I entered into a Master’s of Counseling Psychology program, I studied the effects of exercise on my sleep patterns, and the impact on my ability to feel confident in the program. I did my research and reconnected with the importance of daily exercise for not only sleep but for mental health.

“A single moderate intensity aerobic exercise session improved sleep quality” (1)

Rubio-Arias, Marín-Cascales, Ramos-Campo, Hernandez and Pérez-López (2017) conducted systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trial with middle-aged women looking for the impact of exercise on sleep quality. They concluded that “programmed exercise with moderate physical activity improved sleep quality in middle-aged women and should be encouraged” (2)

I took to wearing a Fitbit charge 2 and monitored my exercise patterns and correlated them to my sleep patterns. At the end of the 12 weeks, I was exercising daily with greater intensity and loving it! I maintained a daily exercise level of an average of 12,144 steps. I was sleeping more (more uninterrupted sleep) and spending more time in deep sleep.

I have more energy, more self-compassion and more time. I feel like I am in the flow where time slows down and I am able to cope with more of my life stresses with positive energy and mood.

True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united- von Humboldt

What has really changed is that now, nearly 5 months later, exercise is a habit. I am trying power barbell classes, bungee fitness classes, core flexibility and strength classes and I am in spinning classes. I still run on the treadmill and outdoors when the weather permits. Best of all, I do all of this with my family so its double the pleasure event!

References:

  1. Wang, X., & Youngstedt, S. D. (2014). Sleep quality improved following a single session of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise in older women: Results from a pilot study. Journal of sport and health science3(4), 338-342
  2. Rubio-Arias, J. Á., Marín-Cascales, E., Ramos-Campo, D. J., Hernandez, A. V., & Pérez-López, F. R. (2017). Effect of exercise on sleep quality and insomnia in middle-aged women: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Maturitas100, 49-56.

Written By: Juli Fyfe