I’m Rediscovering the Mental and Emotional Benefits of Exercise

I’m Rediscovering the Mental and Emotional Benefits of Exercise
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I don’t like going to the gym. But, I like being at the gym. And I really love returning from the gym. I reconfirmed these facts last week.

A few days ago, North Carolina relaxed some of its COVID-19 public safety restrictions, allowing gyms to reopen with certain precautions. When I heard this announcement, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know if I’d feel safe, regardless of any government permission. 

However, seeing how the folks at my local gym manage things and how seriously they seem to take cleaning and social distancing precautions eased some of my concerns. While I wouldn’t be comfortable exercising at any random gym in North Carolina, I’m comfortable frequenting my local gym, at least during certain hours.

Before the sun rises on the weekend? Yeah. After the sun sets on weekdays? Sure. During a summer storm? Absolutely. 

This strategy has worked thus far, considering the emptiness of the gym gives me a certain peace of mind during these times. And, it’s what allows me to focus on getting back into the swing of things and starting to take better care of my body again. Though I’ve enjoyed establishing a routine of neighborhood strolls, in terms of finding the motivation to remain active, nothing compares to having a place dedicated to physical exertion.

I always knew working out at the gym would be easier than working out at home, but I underestimated how restorative the gym would be for my mental and emotional health.

The gym and the workout machines seem so normal during a time when things aren’t always so. I’ve had my gym membership for a few years, and I’ve become accustomed to working out in certain corners and cycling through certain weight machines. Right before North Carolina started closing things down for safety, I had established a workout plan that the past few months put on hiatus. Returning to that routine felt welcome.

Beyond the familiar surroundings and routines, just exercising with more regularity and reinvigorated motivation felt good.

Those of us in the Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) community often hear about the importance of staying active. It is, indeed, very important because muscle atrophy is a signature symptom of CMT and can worsen or accelerate if we let our bodies remain sedentary for too long. However, what often go unmentioned are the mental and emotional benefits of staying active. 

Those benefits of exercising are important, too, and worth pursuing just as much as strength and flexibility. CMT has wide-reaching effects on the bodies of CMTers, and living with and managing it means approaching it comprehensively.

This week, I rediscovered how exercising and the gym, specifically, tick many boxes. It’s not just about physical strength and conditioning; it’s mental and emotional, too.

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Note: Charcot-Marie-Tooth News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Charcot-Marie-Tooth News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Charcot-Marie-Tooth.

Young Lee is a writer with CMT1A living in Cary, North Carolina. He graduated from NC State University in 2013 with degrees in Economics and International Studies. After working for a few years in finance, Lee decided to shift his attention toward writing and library studies. Although Lee first learned he had CMT at a very young age, he didn’t participate much in the CMT community until 2018, when his friend and fellow Bionews writer, Kevin Schaefer, encouraged him to explore and learn more about this very important aspect of his life.
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Young Lee is a writer with CMT1A living in Cary, North Carolina. He graduated from NC State University in 2013 with degrees in Economics and International Studies. After working for a few years in finance, Lee decided to shift his attention toward writing and library studies. Although Lee first learned he had CMT at a very young age, he didn’t participate much in the CMT community until 2018, when his friend and fellow Bionews writer, Kevin Schaefer, encouraged him to explore and learn more about this very important aspect of his life.
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