(Dr. Clayton Lawrence, founder and CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on community wellness and inspiring others.)
There are the obvious benefits of daily physical activity: a healthy heart and a lean body, but encouraging the youth in your life to stick to a fitness plan offers hidden advantages. Dr. Clayton Lawrence, LEAP Foundation founder and CEO, has committed his life to leading by example. The youth mentor not only encourages his mentees to pursue their educational goals despite possible obstacles or adversity, but the endurance athlete is a living example of the value of exercise.
Dr. Lawrence recently completed his 101st marathon when he participated in the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon. What made the occasion even more remarkable was that two special mentees, Rashard Barnes and Kevin Akers, joined him at the race. Joining him at the five-mile mark, this was the longest distance Rashard had ever taken on and, with Dr. Lawrence’s confidence and encouragement, he crossed the finish line.
While establishing good habits at a young age will no doubt benefit long-term health, here are some of the other edges that come from a healthy lifestyle:
A sense of accomplishment
There truly is nothing like crossing that finish line, getting a hole in one, completing an extra lap in the pool or nailing that gymnastics routine. Hard work can lead to exciting accomplishments. We all want to feel as if we have done what we have set out to do, whether it’s making the grade on the test after a night of studying or running a distance that has never been reached before, like Rashard. Success encourages us to always push the boundaries and be a better version of ourselves.
Confidence goes hand-in-hand with accomplishment. When we feel like we have succeeded, there is a natural tendency to hold our heads a little higher. And when we have tasted sweet victory, we’re braver and more confident in our abilities. It only takes one moment of success to believe that we are capable of more than we often tell ourselves we are.
A good night’s rest
They say if you are suffering from insomnia, a little physical activity should do the trick. This is because, in our busy, day-to-day routines we bombard our bodies with stress chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol and when we aren’t doing anything to burn this off, we’re left wide-eyed at 2 a.m. Even a light evening walk can help settle the chemicals and prepare us for a night of restful slumber.
A good workout encourages more blood flow to the brain, which results in better memory and ability to retain knowledge. And for those who suffer from test anxiety, remember that exercise burns off stress chemicals than can lead to an anxious mind. A regular routine is sure to help you stay focused, more confident and less worried during that next exam.