We all know the benefits of keeping fit: weight loss, more energy and reduced risk of certain diseases. However, there’s so much more to exercise than physical benefits. Keeping fit plays a key role in maintaining good mental wellbeing and balance.
Exercise the mind
If you’re feeling down or unmotivated, exercise may be the last thing you want to do. But putting on your running shoes and getting moving can be a great way to improve your mood. Ever heard exercise-lovers talking about the high they get from keeping fit? Well, there actually is something in what they’re saying.
Mentally, you may feel more energized, your stress levels can be reduced and you may sleep better — the latter of which has a whole range of health benefits of its own.
In addition to that, there’s a number of other perks to exercise that are good for the soul. Exercise groups or classes can reduce feelings of isolation or loneliness by connecting you with other people. Outdoor exercise means you’re exposed to vitamin D, which research has shown might play a role in regulating mood, while fresh air and nature are renowned mood-lifters.
Easy does it
Gyms and exercise classes are fantastic ways to keep fit, but don’t feel you have to start an intensive program to keep your wellbeing in top form. There are many simple ways to incorporate exercise into your daily schedule that are cost effective and don’t take up a lot of time:
Rather than driving or taking public transport to work, why not cycle, run or walk? If it’s not possible, then park further away from your work or get off a stop earlier, so you can walk the rest of the way. A 15-minute walk twice a day can go a long way to improving your cardio levels and is a great way to reflect on the day.
On the weekends, meet a friend for a walk and talk, rather than sedentary catchups in bars or cafes. Get your coffees to go and pick somewhere scenic to stroll around.
Try standing at your work desk rather than sitting down all day and organize “walking meetings” rather than booking a meeting room. The extra activity will help clear your head and energize you for the rest of the day.
The science behind it
“Exercise causes the body to release endorphins and serotonin, powerful chemicals which help regulate your mood and make you feel good,” explains Swisse sport and nutrition expert, Chris Holland. “It also pumps blood into the brain, which can help you think more clearly, and help improves connections between nerve cells in your brain, which can improve your memory and helps protect your brain against injury and disease. All of this adds up to improved overall wellbeing, both mental and physical.”
With so much going for exercise, what are you waiting for? Put on your running shoes and get out there. Your brain and body will thank you for it!