Happy May Day! Beautiful weather in Jersey this weekend. I hope you got a chance to get outside, move around, get some rays and much needed Vitamin D, and really smile (not just with your eyes) at other people you encountered.
Last week was all about plogging, the ingenious way of working out and cleaning up the outdoors at the same time. I was searching for a county park to start litter cleanup and wouldn’t you know there is a clean up scheduled for Saturday, May 14, at the very park I thought could use it – Amico Island Park in Delran. Check out this link for details on this timely event.
Today I want to share yet another benefit of physical activity, beyond staying fit, and doing our part to reduce litter and that is its effect on our mental well-being.
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 both 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!
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.
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 often go walking after work and this time walking alone, outdoors in nature, gives me time to 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.
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!
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? If you don’t right now, start slow. Try a YouTube workout video for 15 minutes, take a walk outside now that the weather is good, dance around your kitchen. Whatever it takes, get moving! Your body and mind will thank you.