Exercise is for the Mind and the Body is a Bonus

I’ve never really been an overly sedentary person, wouldn’t really say I’ve been an active person either. No, I probably fell somewhere in the middle. I’d go for walks and do yard work and did ballroom dancing but I never really actively engaged in something you might consider exercise. Not that I actively didn’t want to, it just never really came as a priority to me. Hey, who’s got time to exercise when there are things to learn.

About three or four months ago now though I decided that I needed to start working on some cardio. I’m at the age where I’m closer to 40 than I was to 30 and, well shit, everyone says it only gets harder the longer you wait. So I tried some running and jogging and decided that yea, this isn’t for me.

Then I remember, hey, don’t I have a fucking bike? I’ve always loved riding motorcycles – it’s probably one of the top three things I enjoy doing. But, I’ve given it up recently for a variety of reasons but a bike is pretty close right? Maybe it will feel like motorcycling?

Well, as it turns out, I fucking LOVE to bike.

I started going out for three to four days a week, pushing hard and giving myself a good cardio workout. I’d put my headphones in and put on some rock music and just go. It gets me outside in the sun, my usual route puts me through quiet streets that pass farms and nature preserves. It’s got fresh air and a feeling of openness. I got my Garmin watch on, telling me I’m giving my body a good workout. Physically I’m starting to feel great and I’m loving it.

Then about two weeks ago I hurt my neck. I don’t know how I hurt it, but I hurt it bad and had to stop biking. I was worried that having to stop I would quickly start physically regressing. I worked really hard the past few months and didn’t want to lose my progress. Here’s the thing though, it’s been two weeks and physically I feel fine, except for some lingering neck stiffness. Mentally though? I feel awful.

During the months of starting to bike every week, I focused so much on the physical aspects I never really even noticed all the mental improvements. My mood, focus, sleep and emotional state was better in every way. I was solving problems more clearly and just feeling so much better. I know it sounds cliche to say (I see the articles that pop up on Pocket) but it’s true.

It wasn’t until I was forced to stop that it really hit me how much it affected me. When I’m out on the bike I may be moving my body but it’s a purely subconscious act. Consciously though I’m working my mind. I’m thinking about problems and working through solutions, I’m revisiting memories and thoughts and filing them where they need to go. Letting emotions I’ve not dealt with come front and center and letting them process the way they should.

So now my view is entirely different: Exercise is for the mind, the body is just a bonus.