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Fitness

Beyond The Physical: Can Exercise Do More Than Make You Look Good?

By Sarah Prahl August 30, 2021 No Comments

One of the best things you can do for your health is to engage in regular physical activity. Physical activity has health advantages for everyone, regardless of age, ability, ethnicity, shape, or size.

However, what people don’t know is that exercise also has benefits beyond the physical. For one, physical activity can help you improve your mood and focus. Also, it can protect your brain from depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. Sounds good, right?

Working out provides immediate, long-term, and brain-protective effects. If done regularly, the results can even last a lifetime. 

Why exercise is good for mental health: 

Boosts self-confidence: 

Having a consistent workout routine is an investment in your mind, body, and spirit. It helps boost your self-esteem and make you feel strong and powerful. This is because you naturally feel better about yourself by accomplishing even minor fitness objectives.

Also, when you exercise aerobically, you provide your brain with essential nutrients and oxygen, which improves cognitive performance. In return, you feel more focused, alert, and capable of doing daily activities more effectively after exercising, which will boost your self-esteem.

 

Improves discipline:

If you are looking for ways to become more self-disciplined, exercising is the best solution. Ultimately, your fitness results are a reflection of your lifestyle. The results can tell if you are growing better, quicker, or stronger or losing ground. Therefore, if you do not see the results you want, you put it on yourself to do better and be more disciplined for food and exercise.  

In return, this also helps in keeping yourself accountable for your actions. This makes you aware of the mistakes or misjudgements you make and helps you improve as you go. 

Reduces anxiety and depression: 

According to a new study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 15 minutes of daily running or an hour of daily walking decreases the risk of severe depression by 26%. In addition to alleviating depression symptoms, studies suggest that sticking to an exercise routine can help you avoid relapsing.

Some theorise that this is because exercise helps take your mind off your problems. In return, it breaks the loop of negative thoughts that contribute to depression and anxiety.

Working out causes your brain to release endorphins, which are strong molecules that stimulate you and make you feel happy. Therefore, regular exercise can significantly help you be in a better mental space. Most notably, engaging in physical movement causes various brain changes, including neuronal development, decreased inflammation, and new activity patterns that enhance sensations of calm and well-being.

Enables you to develop a better stress response:

When faced with mental or emotional problems, exercise can help you build resilience and cope in a healthy way, rather than turning to drink, drugs, or other harmful behaviours that simply exacerbate your symptoms. Regular exercise can also aid in the strengthening of your immune system and the reduction of the adverse effects of stress.

Better communication skills: 

You can enhance your communication skills and be prepared for long-term success by engaging in these simple but valuable daily activities. Simply going to the gym and getting to know people can improve your social skills. Also, taking classes and conversing with new people can broaden your social circle and allow you to have more friends. 

Boosts memory: 

In clinical studies conducted by Michelle Ploughman, it was found that physical activity improves memory and learning in animal models. Specifically, it promotes neurogenesis and protects the nervous system from injury and disease. 

According to another study conducted at the University of British Columbia, regular aerobic exercise, the sort that gets your heart and sweat glands flowing, appears to enhance the size of the hippocampus. This is the part of the brain located deep within the temporal lobe. It plays a crucial function in memory and learning.  

Enhances mood and motivation: 

According to Karmel Choi, a clinical and research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, intentionally exercising your body in more mild ways throughout the day, such as walking, stretching, taking the stairs, and washing the dishes, can benefit your mood.

Furthermore, some people see this to be related to social interaction. Physical activity and exercise provide opportunities to connect and communicate with others. Even walking around your area and giving a friendly smile or welcome might lift your spirits.

Better sleep: 

Working out is healthy for both your body and mind, and it can also help you sleep better. Specifically, it increases the amount of time you spend sleeping, as well as the amount of time you spend sleeping in slow waves. The most restorative period of sleep is slow-wave sleep. During this time, your heart rate and breathing are calmed down and your body physically heals itself as human growth hormone is produced.

Aerobic exercise, in particular, has been shown to be beneficial in treating insomnia and other sleep problems without the use of drugs. A 12-week regimen of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise plus strength training decreased the severity of obstructive sleep apnea symptoms by 25% in a study of people with the condition.

Increased energy levels: 

As you move and feel better, you will frequently find that you have more energy to exercise more vigorously. Exercising improves your body’s oxygen circulation. This boost in oxygen not only helps the mitochondria produce more energy but also helps your body function better and utilise its energy more effectively. Furthermore, a rise in hormone levels caused by exercise gives your body a boost, making you feel more energised.

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