It’s a given that regular exercise can reap physical benefits, but being active also can help you psychologically. Here are just a handful of the benefits that experts have discovered.
1. You’ll Feel Great
Getting through a workout can be an incredible accomplishment, whether you’re a beginner who just took your first walk around the block or a seasoned athlete who just achieved a personal best. After all, it takes determination to push through even when you are tired and want to stop. You’ll feel great about having followed through to the end. Not only that, but as you slim down or firm up, you’ll probably feel better about your appearance. Even if you have a hard time seeing your progress, others may compliment you for it, or they might express how proud or inspired they are, this this will have a positive impact on your confidence and self esteem.
2. You’ll be more alert.
There has been a huge range of research that has generally proved the point that an active body equals a more active brain. From young preschool children through to people in the 80’s the impact is the same, better performance , greater attention span , concentration and focus.
3. You’ll stay goal oriented and future focused.
Lasting physical change is not something that happens overnight. It takes time. In fact, for some people, it can take quite a while to reach their fitness or weight loss goals. Regular exercise, therefore, is an example of classic delayed gratification–you must wait to see the finished product and keep your eyes on the prize. The ability to look toward the future in this way can transfer into many other areas of your life, including education, career and even relationships. It can mean you are happier overall because you know that, no matter how difficult things might be now, your situation is not permanent.
4. You’ll be less stressed out.
Physical activity triggers the release of “feel-good” chemicals known as endorphins, which help you feel happy. It also boosts the production of norepinephrine, which makes it easier for your body to handle stress. These positive changes in mood can make all the difference in your everyday activities, be it getting through a big presentation at work or trying to get the kids to bed at a decent hour. You might notice that your relationships improve because the improvement in your feelings spills over into how you interact with others. Some psychiatrists are even recommending that their patients start an exercise programme before trying drugs like antidepressants because because of the positive effects of physical activity.
5. You’ll stay sharp for longer?
Theory why this happens is to do with the fact that exercise keeps the heart functioning well, thereby ensuring that a nutrient-rich blood supply gets to the brain. Other research has concluded that exercise enables your body to make new brain cells, and that working out also may encourage the production of proteins connected to learning and decision making.
6. You’ll learn how to concentrate better.
Even a basic beginner workout provides the opportunity to concentrate on elements such as your rate of breathing or your posture. You might visualize your muscles firing, and you have to keep tabs on where you are in your sets or whether you’re pacing yourself properly. After a while, this kind of focus starts to feel extremely natural, and you’ll start doing this in other areas of your life.
The mind and body are always connected, so not surprisingly, when you exercise, it has an influence over your mental health and performance. You might find that getting off your couch keeps you focused, alert and able to concentrate well into your later life. Exercise also has the potential to relieve your stress, make you happier and improve your overall confidence. Combined with the improvements you’ll see physically, these are excellent reasons to get moving.
References: Erikson (2011). Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory.
Griffen (2011). Aerobic exercise improves hippocampal function and increases BDNF in the serum of young adult males.
Ivanhoe Newsletter (n.a., 2003). Exercise Affects Alertness. Reynolds (2011). How Exercise Benefits the Brain.
Sifferlin (2012). Exercise Trumps Brain Games in Keeping Our Minds Intact.