Ten Reasons On The Importance Of Exercise
Many people do not realise that exercise can drastically improve mental health and personal wellbeing. Here are ten reasons why exercise is so important to your health, mental health, and wellbeing.
Reduced Stress: Exercise is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress and anxiety. Physical activity stimulates the production of endorphins, which are natural mood-enhancing chemicals that help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Doing some gardening is not only productive but it’ll help burn calories and make you feel less stressed. That’s what I call a win-win!
Improved Mood: Exercise has been shown to improve mood and alleviate symptoms of depression. This is because exercise increases the production of feel-good neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. Attending a dance class or fitness class that involves dancing will double the chances of improving your mood. Not only are you getting fit in a hugely enjoyable way, but you’re doing it with other people which can be great too. Clubbercise is a great example!
Better Sleep: Regular exercise can improve the quality of your sleep, helping you to feel more rested and alert during the day. For example going for a nice walk of about an hour in duration (if possible), or a brisk walk for 20-30 minutes, will make you more alert for the rest of the day, but research shows that it can help reduce the time it takes to go to sleep. Of course, you need to make sure you’re doing other sensible things to help you sleep…more on that next month!
Increased Self-Esteem: Exercise can boost your self-esteem and confidence by helping you to achieve your fitness goals and improve your physical appearance. For example, going to the gym on a regular basis you will start to notice that your muscles are toning up and your stamina is improving. About 45 minutes every other day, or three times a week, will give you great results. It’s especially gratifying when you see someone you’ve not seen for a while and they comment on how trim you’re looking!
Reduced Risk of Chronic Disease: Regular exercise can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. If you already have one of this debilitating diseases, exercise can in many instances lessen the impact of it and in some cases put the disease into remission. For example, while there is no correlation between diabetes and obesity (being obese doesn’t mean you’ll get diabetes), if you have diabetes and you’re overweight then losing weight will greatly reduce the impact of the diabetes.
Improved Cognitive Function: Exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function, including memory, concentration, and attention. The reason why this is the case is because by exercising the blood flow increases which helps get more oxygen to the brain, which in turn will help improve brain function. A brisk walk where you get short of breath for twenty minutes (and I’m not saying you should be gasping for air) will go a long way to helping this. If you don’t want to do a brisk walk and prefer a leisurely stroll, that’s fine - but I would recommend speeding up for five minutes at a time every fifteen minutes or so.
Increased Energy Levels: Exercise can increase energy levels and reduce feelings of fatigue, helping you to feel more alert and productive throughout the day. I touched on this earlier, but the more you can sustain physical activity the longer you’ll be able to go. It all takes time and it wouldn’t be very sensible to try and run a marathon before you can go up and down stairs without getting short of breath.
Reduced Symptoms of ADHD: Exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of ADHD, including hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. I was diagnosed as an adult and I have found that when I do exercise I’m able to concentrate for longer and I don’t get quite so hyperactive. I would much rather exercise than take drugs to reduce the symptoms!
Improved Social Connections: Exercise can be a social activity, allowing you to connect with others who share your interests and goals. I mentioned it earlier, but if you can find people with whom you can exercise then you’re more likely to sustain it. Going for a walk is lovely, but if you’re on your own it can feel lonely. I will be honest, as a single guy with no dog I do struggle sometimes to take myself out for a walk, or to go to the gym, but I’m always glad when I do.
Reduced Symptoms Of Depression: If you suffer from mild to moderate depression, exercise can help reduce the symptoms. Much like the reducing stress, the same chemicals (endorphins) can help reduce depression. If you are living with depression (and indeed other health issues) some coaching may help but you should definitely seek help from a medical professional.
There are many more reasons why exercise is good for you and it’s very easy to make the excuse of being too busy. But if you can only find ten minutes a day to do some kind of physical activity that is going to have a positive impact. Ten minutes is less than 1% of your day (based on 24 hours)…in fact it’s 0.7%! If you take out 8 hours of sleep leaving you 15 hours, ten minutes is only 1.1’% of your day.