There are many benefits to working out and getting yourself moving which go far beyond just the physical results that we see. It is lead to believe that there are also many mental benefits from your time spent exercising and it doesn’t take long to see why that exactly is. When the cyclists are up early before the sun or the big group of runners are all together on a Sunday morning, the driving factor that gets their attendance isn’t because they are obsessed with their activity (more often than not), rather it is the way that it makes them feel afterwards and the reward they get from achieving this task. Even if those early mornings aren’t for you, there are still plenty of ways that you can get your exercise on and be living in the post-workout glow for hours or even days after. As we talk about the mental health benefits of exercise on the body, we will also mention fun ways for you to exercise without spending hours in the gym or on the running track that will actually seem fun. But first, let’s talk about what is happening in our bodies when we exercise.
The Mental and Physical Benefits of Working Out. When you exercise and get your heart rate elevated, our bodies release a chemical in our brains called endorphins. These chemicals interact with the receptors in your brain and have a positive impact on our overall wellbeing. The endorphins have a similar feeling to the body as morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout can be described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by your mood being very upbeat and feeling accomplished.
Sometimes when we are stressed, the feeling that overcomes us can sometimes be describes as tense especially in your neck, back and even causing headaches. You may feel a pain in your chest from the stress or have problems sleeping. Exercising can be an effective way to break through these stress-lead problems and feel a sense of relief. The increased blood flow around our bodies and warming our core internal temperature can make our bodies feel better after the workout and no longer tense.
Exercise is a natural anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances your mood. Anything that gets you moving can help, but you’ll get a bigger benefit if you pay attention instead of zoning out. Try to notice the sensation of your hands on the weights or feet in the bike pedals or the way you are breathing to help keep your mind on the job. By adding this mindfulness element you’ll not only improve your physical condition, but you may also be able to interrupt the flow of constant worries running through your head.
Not only stress and anxiety, but there are also a plethora of other mental health benefits that exercise has on the body. It can help sharpen your memory and thinking power. Those same endorphins that give us that euphoric feeling actually also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp. You can also have a higher self-esteem and a new sense of self confidence when you start to work out. Seeing steady progress in yourself is a sure way give us a little burst of confidence the next time we try on the clothes that we love to wear. Maybe our shirt fits a little better or the sleeves are a bit tighter around your biceps, there’s no stopping you once you feel good. You can also enjoy the rewards of having much better sleep at night. Burning the energy throughout the day while you are exercising will help your body fall asleep faster and it will also spend more time repairing itself which helps keep us in a deeper sleep for longer and a less restless night.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. How am I going to find an extra 5 hours a day to exercise this much when I can barely find 5 minutes in my schedule. There’s no way we can get rewards like this unless were spending all that time exercising, right? Well that’s where you’re wrong. It can take only as little as 15 minutes of exercising a day to start to feel some of the positive mental health effects on our body. And these 15 minutes don’t have to be spent at our absolute maximal aerobic capacity, either. Just getting up and getting moving is enough. So whether that be a walk to the shops at a quicker pace than usual or even just finding some hills in your area to walk up will do the trick. As your body gets more used to the new stimulus, you will find that these walks become easier and you are able to go further for longer. And even if you feel up to it, you can start experimenting with new ways to get your exercise in like joining a gym or starting a new hobby.
Hammer’s Gym in Nunawading is always here to help and offers many different ways for you to get active. Aside from our state of the art gym equipment, you can also enjoy the many classes that we have to offer from martial arts, to general fitness classes or all the way to our slower paced classes like yoga if you just want to get out of the house and focus on yourself. So, if you have read this far, I would like to challenge you to get up and do something active that you normally wouldn’t have and see if you can feel your “runner’s high”. If you do, then that’s great, and if not, don’t give up! I promise you that you will be able to see benefits from increasing your level of activity throughout your day.