When we think of the positive effects of exercise, we often think of the physical benefits since exercise is a physical activity. For example, some of the common benefits of working out are weight loss, staving off diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension, maintaining muscle and bone strength, enhancing the immune system, and amongst other things.
However, it is also important to remember the positive mental and emotional impact that exercise tends to have on us. Regular exercise and movement have many short term and long-lasting positive effects that are connected to psychological well-being.
In fact, here are four things that happen when you exercise daily:
1. You feel happier
Studies have shown that after physical activity, there is an increase in serotonin, dopamine, and endorphin levels in the body. These are chemicals in our body that are closely related to mood and are often known to combat negative emotions and boost positive emotions.
Furthermore, research has shown that people that participate in regular exercise report more positive emotions than people who don’t.
2. You feel less anxious and stressed
When your body is under stress or you feel panicked, your body releases cortisol. Exercise is said to decrease cortisol. Furthermore, physical movement relaxes the muscles and relieves tension in the body. So, regularly exercising can help manage the symptoms of anxiety and stress.
3. You sleep better
Regular physical movement can help regulate a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Being active helps you feel energized and can reduce tiredness and fatigue during the day. It helps our bodies fall asleep faster and also improves the quality of deep sleep, both of which are needed for our mind and body to rejuvenate. Science shows that physical activity reduces pre-sleep anxiety and can help people who have insomnia.
4. You feel better about yourself
How we view ourselves has a big impact on how we feel. Making fitness a habit helps us repeatedly invest in ourselves, which in turn improves our self-esteem and self-worth. Achieving our physical goals, however small, also fosters a sense of achievement and competence. Staying active helps us create a positive relationship with our body image.
Want all the benefits? Well, you’ve got to be regular
To reap the benefits mentioned above, you need to be regular and consistent with your exercise routine. However, this is often easier said than done. To maintain consistency, you can join the gym, sign up for classes with fixed timings, find a ‘work-out buddy’, and build some ‘active time’ into your daily routine.
Most importantly, remember that doing some exercise is better than doing none. So if you cannot exercise every day, try and engage in some form of physical activity to keep up the pace. Even things like cleaning the house, walking the dog, going for a hike, or dancing with your friends count!
You can start small and gradually build it up. But start somewhere. Start working towards a healthier body and a healthier mind!