Skinny Daily Post


“I feel great,” says the Hubby.

“I’m so glad, poopsie,” I say.

“I didn’t think I’d feel so good so soon,” he says.

“Yeah, it’s something, isn’t it?” I say.

“No, but it’s amazing how much better I feel today than yesterday,” he says.

“I believe it,” I say.

“After just one day?!?” he says. Now clearly exasperated.

His problem: He thought I was doing that half-listening thing that long-married couples can sometimes do, or so I’ve heard, but which I have never done, and would never do, of course not. I pay strict and absolute attention to every syllable he utters. Double-pinkie-swear I do. Cross my heart.

It’s just that I know, I know, I know, already, that he feels great after just one day of exercise. I get that. I’ve seen it, done it, lived it for years now. But I forget what it’s like for someone to discover this for the first time themselves. It’s astonishing.

Yes, a good, solid workout of more than 30 minutes, combining aerobic exercise and strength work, that doesn’t exceed your fitness level, makes you feel amazingly good, immediately.

We’ve taken to starting our day together at a new gym. This is something I do for the fall and winter and spring, when the light leaves Michigan, when I grow too much afraid of the dark to keep running or walking. But hubby has never joined me at a gym, because there’s the part about getting out of bed in the morning, really early. There are the dogs and their care to consider. Workout clothes. Our coffee addiction to feed. Strangers. Sweating in public. What music will they play? How far away is it? All of the same agonizing considerations each of us needs to answer when we decide to join a gym.

We shopped around, found a gym where the televisions never play Fox News, a gym with hot showers, lots of aerobic machines, and a good location for both of us.

After the very first day, after breathing pollen-free air while peddling for 20 minutes on an elliptical machine for the first time ever, then running a short circuit on the weight machines, Hubby was astonished how he felt for the rest of the day.

He felt great, clear-headed, calm, peaceful. His body felt warm, his back and shoulders and neck didn’t hurt as they always do. Or not nearly as much as they always do. He finished his workout and returned home before the dogs woke up, and with the satisfaction of knowing he was done for the day. He’d already gotten his workout in, and didn’t have to wonder and think and try to figure out how to shoehorn exercise into the avalanche that is his daily schedule.

And yes, I did know what he was saying, I understand completely how exercise has not just long-term benefits — we all know how it can reverse and ward off scary diseases — but how it has immediate benefits, too. It’s a great anti-depressant, it’s a great anti-anxiety fix. It shakes out, warms, and loosens your bones and ligaments, making you feel better, function better all day long.

There is very little in the pursuit of good health that offers immediate rewards. But exercise, when done within your fitness range and comfort level, gives as good as it gets. Right now. Right away. After just one day.

Exercise and Stress, Tufts

Exercise and Back Pain

Exercise and Depression

Exercise and Sleep

11 thoughts on “Feel Better Today

  1. Dana says:

    So why, when we’re most busy, is exercise the first thing we cut out of our days? Why, when we need it most, when our plates are overflowing with committments, do we disregard one of the few committments that could actually make the rest of the day easier?

    I needed this post today, Juju, because as you mentioned, the shorter days and dark nights have crept up on me and its time to re-think my fall exercise routine. And with the busyness of September and everything starting again, I’ve let exercise slip to the bottom of my to-do list.

    I need to get out the permanent markers and my day planner and make some appointments with my own body.

  2. Marie says:

    The problem I struggle with is what is more important, exercise or sleep? I am totally not a morning person yet I get up at 6 or 6:30 on a normal day for work. I don’t typically go to bed till midnight, sometimes 1am. This is not insomnia, once I’m there I’m out, its more that I’m so involved in so many things in the evening I often don’t get home till 11 or so, then just seem to need to wind down before I can peacfully sleep.

    I’ve heard that recent studies have found sleep deprivation can affect lots of things you’d never think of, ie blood sugar regulation..something I often have trouble with. And regardless of that I know it sure makes me feel crappy, foggy headed and difficult to concentrate etc, even dizzy sometimes. No good.

    I’m working on going to bed earlier and also trying to get in more exercise. When I don’t get to bed early (which is still most nights) what’s the best thing to do? Do I get up yet another hour or so earlier 5 or 5:30 …to exercise..go through my day on 4 hours sleep?? Or get that precious hour.

    I think that is what a lot of us struggle with. We’re already sleep deprived and getting up extra early seems so darned difficult a lot of the time.

  3. Stephanie says:

    I know I feel better after one day! I’ve been slacking on exercise lately…stress and so forth in my life…and I know that I will feel better physically and the stress in my life will seem to be better as well! I’m going to the gym tonight…and I have a schedule mapped out (literally on a calendar) for the next few weeks! After I see how my plan goes, I’ll plan farther ahead!

  4. jappy says:

    What I’ve learned is this: If you don’t take time to exercise now, you’ll have time for ILLNESS later…

    Took my hubby a year before he believed exercise made a difference in so many things. Now we’re both up at the crack of dawn!

  5. Quinn says:

    Simplify, simplify, simplify.

    Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.

    And learn to say “No” to people who want you to do stuff for them.

    And remember that “No” is a complete sentence.

    And, YEAH, Jappy is exactly right about it being either exercize now or deal with illness later. And where then will all those people who wanted you to do stuff for/with/instead them be? Hmmmm?

  6. Lee says:

    Well said, Julie, as usual. BRAVO! And it’s absolutely fantastic that you will have your husband to exercise with this fall/winter. Because if he’s this giddy after just one day, think about how absolutely ecstatic he’s going to be in a month or two.

    To Marie:
    I used to be the EXACT SAME WAY! I’d stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning and then sleep in as late as I possibly could the next morning. I was a nightowl and loved it that way. No way I’d ever be happy — or capable — of becoming a morning person.

    Guess what? I’m now a morning person. I get up at 5:15am each and every morning. I exercise each and every day. And I go to bed at a decent hour to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep. And the best part? The world didn’t end. It’s a choice that each of us makes. You either *choose* to make fitness and health a priority in your life — even if it means altering your daily schedule — or you don’t.

    As Quinn said, Simplify and Prioritize. People choose to do it every day.

  7. Kathy says:

    A gym where they do not play fox news. Yes, I need one of those. That would most definitely help.

  8. Lynne says:

    Julie, you always hit the target. But I gotta say the “Fox News” mention made me belly laugh out loud!! I unfortunately, have not found that gym in my area — at least one television is *always* tuned to Fox News.

    Of course, they do have one of the coolest names in broadcast journalism: Uma Pemmaraju. I *love* her name! It’s right up there with NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli and Snigdha Prakash.

  9. Marie says:

    Lee: Well how did you do it then?? Become a morning person. Cause I”ve been trying for years and its just not working. Its not that I sleep in late during the week, I get up at 6:30am for work every day. Even when I had a job where I had to be there at 7 (which I managed barely) and got up at I think 5:30, I never did “get used to it” like they say, I just got more and more exhausted. And I had tried to go to sleep earlier, I really did.

    Now, if I try to get the 8 or so hrs sleep they say most people need (and I believe) then that would mean even now going to bed about 10:30 at latest. Usually I’m not even home till 9:30 or 10 if not later (doing stuff that can’t really be done earlier..sort of a 2nd music job in a way) so it makes it tricky. I keep thinking if I could just catch up a little on my sleep, then I could try getting up earlier again. Maybe..

    Sometimes its seems society is just geared to cause sleep deprivation. MOst people have to get up way early for school or work, even earlier to exercise or take kids to school/daycare. Yet so many things run so late, sports, everyone’s favorite shows, etc. And it seems like a sign of weakness sometimes to say you have to cut out early to sleep. But maybe that’s in my head.

    So has anyone done research to see if morning exercise really is better than evenign? I know the 8 minutes in the morning guy says so, but does it really?

  10. Mark Hall says:

    Ms. Ridl,

    Your article did a nice job of articulating one of the most compelling aspects of exercise — one feels way better about everything.

    Mark Hall, MD, MPH
    Kent County Health Department

  11. emily says:

    Actually the evidence from athletes is that they perform better later in the day and that early am exercise causes injuries etc. However, the main point is that you need to work out at a time that you can protect and maintain, and for most of us that’s the morning.

    I too used not to be a morning person, but get up before 6 each day to do so. I’m a convert. How? By just doing it for long enough that it has become a habit.

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