The benefits of exercise are mind-blowing. They can range from increasing memory not only for your muscles but also for your brain and all in between. Get inspired to start moving by reading the many ways working out can improve mental well-being, relationships, and an overall happier and healthier life.
1. Adapt easier to change
Once you begin a routine of exercise the benefits are reaped even after a break. Thirty minutes of endurance or strength training 3 times a week affects muscles on the cellular level first before any physiological results are seen. Thus after exercise is stopped and muscles begin to atrophy, the cellular level memory remains intact and can remember previous learned motor sensory to achieve faster results upon onset of exercise again.
2. Reduce stress
A brisk walk or weight lifting stimulates the central nervous system and increases the neurotransmitters including dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine which our body releases to adapt more efficiently to stress. The intense concentration for coordinated exercise such as dance, tennis or rowing precipitates a type of distraction that may reduce anxiety even further.
3. Relieve depression
Exercise is like taking a happy pill. It’s a form of mediation which facilitates an altered state of consciousness. Playing tag can reignite that inner child and boost mood. Press that fun button and get that body moving again.
4. Increase self-confidence and body image
Physical activity gives a sense of mastery and control. Seeing results of your hard work gives a sense of gratification. Not only are the improvements seen in your body but also running that mile faster or lifting more weight than before.
5. Inspire others
Exercising with a buddy is an instant motivator. You are more apt to exercise because your partner is there waiting. They hold you accountable for your actions and vice versa. Not only are you encouraged to show up but when you are running side by side, you are more apt to push just a little harder. There’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition.
6. Make new friends
There’s no better way to make new friends than at a pick-up game of soccer, a group class at the gym, or joining a running club. Exercise is just more fun with someone else.
Working out can help prevent telomeres from shortening. Telomeres are like the plastic protector at the end of your shoe laces but for your chromosomes. Telomeres protect genetic data and determine how we age and get cancer. When we age, cells divide and telomeres shorten. Overtime, telomeres reach a point where they can no longer divide and become inactive. This process is associated with aging, cancer, and a shortened lifespan. Research shows that aerobic exercise can help delay shortening of telomeres and add years to your life. So go ahead and take those stairs instead of the elevator knowing you are doing your body and cells good.
8. Decrease onset of Alzheimer’s
Staying physically active maintains good blood flow to the brain and supports new brain cells. Research shows regular exercise such as tai chi, yoga, even gardening can increase blood flow to the brain which reduces brain cell loss. Exercise also stimulates mental activity especially when done with a partner. The social interaction and decision-making process of planning your route or coordination of a good game of softball provide added brain benefits.
9. Improve learning
Researchers who published a study in the 2011 Archives of Internal Medicine determined that even mild exercise improves cognitive functioning compared to folks who did not exercise. Learning a new sport or activity like ballroom dancing can increase the amount of gray matter in your occipital lobe, the area of the brain associated with visual memory. A 2004 Nature article stated that those who learned how to juggle increased the amount of gray matter but when they stopped the new gray matter vanished. So learn a new move, improve your learning and memory and keep practicing!
The positive effects of physical activity out way any negative, self-sabotaging excuses. Exercise doesn’t have to be at the gym to be beneficial. All you have to do is access that inner child and get that body moving again. You might just lose a few pounds and gain improved relationships, memory, and confidence.