How being strong has changed my perspective on fitness.

I just started my freshman year at Boston University – home of Fit University’s second campus chapter – and am thrilled to be diving into everything that college life and the city of Boston have to offer. For me, this includes finding quality and joy in the fitness aspect of my life. Ever since I started rowing crew four years ago, fitness has been a huge part of my life. My thoughts surrounding body image, weight, strength, and fuel have fluctuated in years past, but I would like to share my story with the confidence I have now gained in the importance of being strong.

You might be wondering: what do I mean by strong? And what’s the point?

why be strong

When I started rowing crew, I dropped a lot of weight. I saw food as the enemy, and limited my intake because of body insecurities that had been present since elementary school. I was a small rower. At 5’1”, I thought I had no chance of being successful; however, I was determined. As soon as I got back on track and learned that I couldn’t build muscle while I wasn’t eating enough, I set my crew goals high.

By junior year, some of those goals had been adjusted, but I was stronger and more successful than I expected. After pondering quitting crew multiple times, I finally accepted that I was never going to be in the top varsity boat. However, I did become determined to do the most that I could with my size. The extra training, hard work, and dedication paid off in many ways, and most importantly, improved my long-term health. This tumultuous experience taught me how to live the lifestyle I want and taught me why I believe in strength.

When I say strength, I do not necessarily mean having bulging muscles (though if that’s your thing, go for it!) or having gymnast abilities. By strength, I mean having the strength to support your own body. Do cardio. Have a strong heart. Have the core strength to be able to go on hikes or adventures, or help build something in an impoverished neighborhood. It will strengthen the most important muscle in your body and send yourself farther than you ever thought you could go. That’s why I think it’s good to be strong. You only get one body, and if you want to be walking on the beach when you’re eighty years old like I know I do, it’s important to be strong. This means all-around, total body strength: arms, back, core, butt, legs, and hips. It will be worth it.

Here are 10 reasons why it’s worth the effort to be strong:

1. Stress relief – exercise is an excellent way to blow off some steam, which why be strongis actually healthy for your heart, ability to sleep, blood pressure, and overall mood. 

2. Confidence – the strength to do the most you can with your body size, stand up for yourself, and be fit is one of the best ways to feel better about yourself. When you feel strong, you can do anything!

3. Do the things you love – it’s like I stated above. There are so many fun activities you can discover. Being strong gives you the ability to try any and all of those things.

4. Prevent injury and take care of yourself – Having strength in all of the important places is a huge advantage when it comes to injury prevention. Many injuries are accidents, but being fit can make recovery and the necessary lifestyle adjustments for daily care much easier! Think you need someone to help lift your groceries or that new table into your house? Probably not.

5. Everyday life – There will be so many things you take for granted: carrying books to class, walking up hills and stairs, moving heavy boxes, and carrying groceries are all tasks that feel way easier when you’re strong.

6. Improve your metabolism – The more muscle someone has, the more calories burned. Simple as that.

why be strong7. Improve bone strength – When you exercise (especially when you do weight bearing exercise and high-impact exercise, such as running or jumping) you train your body to build up strength in your bones and joints. Staying fit can actually prevent osteoporosis and the effects of aging early! Not to mention the immediate effects of stronger bones, like preventing shin splints and other painful breaks or sprains.

8. Improve general health overall – When you’re fit and strong, chances are you’ll just feel better in general. Who doesn’t want that?

9. And performance. Think you’re a fast runner? Biker? Swimmer? Rower? Add more strength training to all the areas untrained by that sport (cross train!), and you’ll be amazed by the benefits.

10. You’ll be badass. You’ll surprise people with what you can do. The man shoveling concrete into your wheelbarrow might not think you can handle much. But guess what? He’s wrong, and he’ll be amazed by the amount you carry away.

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