I have nine. And some interesting new research on exercise for you to examine this week.
Have you ever heard people (or yourself) say “I am too tired to work out”? Well guess what – working out increases your energy levels. Sometimes the best thing to do when you are tired, is to get moving!
Often, we think of physical fitness and exercise as ways to keep our body looking toned, reduce fat and lose weight. It is either a lifestyle for us, as a way of maintaining our appearance, or it is a goal-oriented activity to change our appearance (maybe for a special event) which has an end date.
Here are nine great reasons to exercise (for body and mind):
1. Better sleep
2. Better stamina
3. Stress relief
4. More energy
5. Mood elevator
6. Weight reduction
7. Reduced cholesterol
8. Increased cardiovascular fitness
9. Better SEX!
And new research indicates that weight training specifically may change the composition of our cells thereby shrinking fat. We all know that by strength training with weights we increase muscle mass, thereby increasing our metabolic rate and caloric burn. Now scientists are noting an almost instant reaction on cells that may diminish the fat stores.
Rarely do we think of it as part of our mental health game plan however there are many ways in which exercise can help keep us stay mentally strong and fit.
A recent article in the New York Times indicates that for first time since World War II, life spans in the US are declining, mostly due to Covid-19. This chart from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows life expectancy is plunging, and the most disturbing news is that the pandemic is not the only cause, and this has been a trend for a few years beforehand. The real story of the increase in early death has to do with our state of mind and how we manage (or mismanage) stressors and anxieties in our daily lives. The pandemic has only exacerbated it.
Source: New York Times, July 22, 2021
Studies have shown that exercise can help treat mild depression just as effectively as medication. Some have shown that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour can help reduce the risk of major depression. Endorphins are released, giving you a lift, new neural pathways are engaged and often the physical activity distracts you from repetitive negative thoughts.
And exercise is a great stress reliever. I now walk to and from my workspace, outdoors in nature, which gives me time to set up the start of my day and decompress before I head home. I feel more relaxed both mentally and physically afterwards.
Also exercise increases dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels, all of which increase your focus and mental acuity, thereby reducing ADHD symptoms. And it is found that exercise increases growth of our brain cells, slowing age-related declines.
Regular workouts increase your self-esteem, because you not only look better by exercising regularly you are investing in yourself, which in turn increases your feelings of self-worth. These feelings of achievement and acknowledging your efforts make you feel good about yourself.
Regular exercise increases your stamina and resilience, so when you are faced with mental and emotional challenges we don’t resort to drugs, alcohol, and food to cope. We are much better able to manage our emotions and reactions, when we keep our bodies fit. Not to mention that the more exercise is part of your lifestyle, the more able you will be to handle physical and mental stress.
Plenty of reasons to start adding some regular exercise into our daily routine, right?