Why It's So Important to Start Exercising in Your 20s

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In your 20s, you become free. No one can tell you what to do. You are fearless, experimental, competitive, looking for love, looking for identity, and even looking for your HEART AND SOUL!

While coaches can shout at you to sprint in high school and doctors can warn you of the impending doom of middle age if you don't keep moving as you get older, in your 20s, no one can make you exercise. Science and medicine all point to its contribution to your health, fitness, and physical welfare, but let's be honest: This is the age in which pretty much all of us will engage in some form of self-destructive experimentation. 

Exercise is a way to mitigate that experimentation. It's the one thing available to every one of us, regardless of economic status. Those of us who exercise regularly in our 20s will increase our fitness, our health, our pride, our self-satisfaction, our capacity to lead by example, our development of self-discipline, our sense of priority, and the likelihood that we will continue to engage in regular exercise as we grow older.

Waiting to exercise later in life, when our metabolism slows down and being fit requires more work, is no longer an option. Women today aren't prepping for days of bridge club and knitting circles — they are running marathons, running international companies, and running for president.

If we don't take care of ourselves, we can't take care of anyone else. Even if you are a metabolically and genetically blessed twentysomething, that doesn't mean your body can't become unhealthy from a circulation standpoint. Your health and mental capacity depend on remembering to nourish your physical self.

When we are young, like my little 3.5-year-old, Penny, we are driven by curiosity and adrenaline. If Penny wants something at the top of a jungle gym, she is going to try to get it. Once we bump our heads a few times and learn we can fall, we start to become aware of cause and effect. Our brains, which were firing signals faster than R2-D2 in a marathon when we were toddlers, start to calm the more our intellectual selves develop, and we learn that certain climbs may be dangerous. 

Then we move into other activities like sports, dance, and playing outside with friends. If we get made fun of or benched for lack of "size" or "talent" a few times, we start to denature our physical selves because our emotional selves have been bruised. Then the hormonal changes begin, and unless our inner athlete has been showered with positive encouragement, we start viewing moving as a chore. 

The lack of a real gym-class workout curriculum doesn't help us create long-lasting habits once we're out of high school. 

When we don't move regularly, strategically, and effectively year after year, other symptoms may arrive: depression, anxiety, obesity, fatigue, and many other things we like to blame on hormones, chemical imbalances, or shitty relationships. 

Our bodies are complex systems that have to be treated as such — but it doesn't have to be as complicated as we make it. If we have a good, natural, honest talking-to with ourselves about this ship of ours, we can learn to drive it with integrity and consistency.

Our bodies want to be rested, moved, and fed naturally. Our bodies don't want to drink the Kool-Aid of trends and quick fixes, to inhale a vat of chemicals condensed into a pill, or to live every day in Spanx. You are how you move, you are what you eat, and you are how you balance being healthy with enjoying the treats in life. 

Making sure to show up for your exercise routine daily and to focus inward on your overall health, and not simply on your outer appearance, allows for there to be personal freedom — you can enjoy the experience of cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate on a crisp fall morning without sacrificing your health.

Exercise affects our heart and soul; our heart contains our pride and our effort to accomplish all we can, and our soul contains our character, which is built on doing what we as individuals believe to be best. The development of our heart and soul is in every exercise we do, and the more regularly we exercise in our 20s, the more our hearts and souls will thrive for the rest of our lives.

Tracy Anderson is a fitness expert and creator of the Tracy Anderson Method, a revolutionary fitness methodology that has transformed the lives of millions of people across the globe with customized training, DVDs, and more.

Lenny is an email newsletter founded by Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, the creators of HBO's Girls. Subscribe now at lennyletter.com. 
From: ELLE
Photo By Getty

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