You hear it all the time—it is an absolute necessity to introduce physical activity into your daily routine in order to feel like your healthiest and happiest self. But how accurate is this statement, really?
For years you have been told that any form of exercise, even if it’s only 10 minutes daily, is one of the most important things you can do for your body and mind, especially as you get older. This is because, over time, our body’s natural systems start to weaken, making it more and more important to add consistent levels of exercise. While in the moment it can be draining and hard to understand how such a small act can have a huge impact, there are tons of research reviews that show your future self will indeed thank you for making minor adjustments to your lifestyle habits. So no, it is not just an advertising ploy for personal trainers and healthy food companies alike, there is hard scientific proof that argues exercise aids your body and most importantly your mental health.
Today, we have put together the major benefits of working out that will help motivate you to start your physical journey. By making physical fitness a priority in your regimen, we guarantee you'll have a new perspective on working out. If this sounds intriguing and beneficial to you (and it should!), then keep reading.
Your brain controls your mood
Get your heart racing a little and your body will do miraculous things. One of the most important benefits of exercise is that it helps release chemical neurotransmitters such as dopamine and endorphins into your brain, which in turn will make you happy by positive reinforcement. If the gym is totally out of question on a rough day, simply just walking to the grocery store instead of driving will help bring you to a happier place.
Nurture a stress-free mind
Many activities can help release stress, but according to the American Psychological Association, exercise in particular is strongly suggested to increase concentrations of norepinephrine in parts of the brain that signal stress—lucky for us it’s a chemical that can moderate how we respond to stress. So instead of lashing out and allowing our anger to perpetuate due to appetite loss, maybe next time we face hardships, we’ll remember this. The more logical choice would be to walk or jog around the neighbourhood!
When anxiety strikes, you probably just want to lay in bed and sleep it off…But you might be surprised to hear that exercise can help overcome anxiety as well. That’s right, the same types of neurotransmitters released to prevent stress and promote happiness can also help your brain cope with and relieve anxious thoughts. So force yourself out of bed and get into the gym! The treadmill can work wonders even if you’re convinced that nothing will help.
Relax a little
It’s a little secret that is often overlooked: exercise uses energy in order to get the heart and blood pumping their way to better health. This, in turn, raises body temperature and makes us tired. So if you’re having trouble sleeping or trying everything to combat your insomnia, know that just a few hours after any physical activity, body temperature finally drops back to normal which automatically signals to your brain that it’s time to sleep. Make exercise a habit and eventually you will naturally need sleep instead of want it. And we already know that sleep is necessary to keep the brain and body functioning at its best, so why not work hard at the gym so you can look forward to relaxing in bed?
Skip the energy drinks
If you start dozing off after a long afternoon, instead of buying another cup of coffee or an energy drink that will eventually cause you to crash, opt for a more reliable solution. Go for a 20 minute jog or hop on a bike at the gym—research shows that regular exercise can help give a natural boost of energy and promote productivity throughout the rest of the day. Try it on your next lunch break and see for yourself. You’ll become the office superstar, and that’s something that can actually make you look forward to work everyday.
Achieving personal goals
Apart from the scientific evidence and theories that favour exercise in order to achieve happiness, we also think it’s important to keep in mind the goal-setting aspect of any form of physical activity that you choose. Whether you’re a runner, a body builder, a biker, or just a dog walker, think about the goals you reach while you exercise: running farther with ease, gaining more muscle, feeling your legs get stronger as you pedal, or finally being able to outrun your pup during a game of fetch—those are all physical achievements that will put you in a great state of mind when you realize how far you’ve come. Taking pride in our own progress is such a simple yet effective factor that makes exercise an extremely mood-enhancing part of our lives. You can’t deny the fact that it feels good to run faster or walk longer distances uphill without breaking a sweat! Plus, it can sometimes be difficult to achieve bigger goals in careers or relationships, so small tangible goals that you can work towards in just weeks can make all the difference.
Confidence and self-esteem
This is similar in part because for many people, physical appearance can be a personal goal. Low self-esteem can be harmful to a mindset, especially when it affects confidence in relationships, careers, and other aspirations. When you can finally look in the mirror and see good change, you have physical evidence that is likely to make you (and your fave jeans) ecstatic. Exercise will make you look and feel stronger, and the positive changes will only reaffirm confidence in yourself to be able to achieve what you set out to do, which of course increases happiness.