New blog – for today’s blog I thought I’d write about exercise. For many years I’ve hard people talk about how great exercise is but I’ve never really understood this before. I’ve joined a few gyms in my time but never really seen it through.
Recently though I decided to give joining the gym another go and see what all the fuss is about. And I have to say since signing up for my local branch of Pure gym I have become an exercise convert! The rush of endorphins I experience after a good workout is like nothing else.
So I thought I’d take the opportunity here to highlight a few benefits of regular exercise so that you too can join me in becoming an exercise convert!
1. It can make you happier:
I know I’ve banged on about this before but having experienced the benefits myself I can conclusively say that regular and frequent exercise really can help lift your mood. Exercise helps produces changes in the parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety. It can also increase brain sensitivity for the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression. Studies have shown that even a limited amount of exercise can help people feel less depressed 🙂
2. It can help with weight loss:
I know this sounds pretty obvious but it’s worth stating here that inactivity is a major factor in weight gain and obesity. On the contrary being active and exercising will help boost your metabolic rate which helps you burn more of those pesky calories! This runs counter to dieting (which is of course the other popular method of losing weight) as reducing your calorie intake by dieting can actually lower your metabolic rate thus decreasing the speed at which you burn calories. So why not exercise more instead of trying out the latest dieting fad and feeling bad because it’s not working for you? The quickest and best way to lose weight is to combine aerobic exercise with resistance training. Try it for a few weeks and watch the pounds fall off!
3. Exercise is good for your muscles and your bones:
Another obvious point is that lifting weights paired with increased protein intake will help improve your muscle gain (without having to take stupid risks like taking steroids). But did you know why? Well it’s because exercise helps release hormones that promote the ability of your muscles to absorb amino acids. This helps your muscles grow and reduces their breakdown.
Exercise can also help build density, especially among the young which increases the strength of your bones and can help prevent nasty problems like osteoporosis. So for strong muscles and bones make sure you get plenty of protein and hit those weights!
4. Exercising can increase your energy levels:
I know what it’s like to feel tired and listless on a frequent basis. The last thing you want to do is start exercising and feel more tired! However, did you know that a recent study has shown that six weeks of regular exercise reduced feelings of fatigue for 36 people who suffered from persistent fatigue? It can also help build energy levels in people suffering from serious illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDs and MS. So don’t think there thinking you haven’t got the energy to go to the gym or do some exercise. Think instead about the fact that you haven’t got the energy not to go!
5. Exercise can reduce your risk of chronic disease:
Another well-established fact is that physical inactivity can increase the risks of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Exercising regularly can help to improve insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular fitness, body composition as well as help reduce blood pressure and blood fat levels. All of which is essential to maintaining good health!
6. It can help skin health:
One of the most surprising things I came across when researching this article is the positive effect that exercise can have on your skin health. This is because regular moderate exercise can help increase your body’s production of anti-oxidants which are used to help protect cells, including your skin cells. Without these anti-oxidants you can suffer from oxidative stress which can lead to your skin cells becoming damaged and affecting the appearance of your skin. Exercise also increases blood flow and can induce skin cell adaptations that help delay the appearance of skin aging. So if you want nice youthful looking skin make sure to get your exercise!
7. Exercise can help your brain health and memory:
Exercise helps improve your heart rate and so increases the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain. As oxygen is vital to keep your brain alive it goes without saying that increasing the supply of oxygen to your brain is a good thing! But as well as increasing the supply of oxygen exercise also helps to produce hormones which can increase the growth of healthy brain cells. It also helps the hippocampus which is vital for learning and memory to grow in size which can help increase mental function in older adults and reduce the risk of developing conditions like Alzheimer’s.
8. Exercise can help with relaxation and sleep quality:
Exercising burns energy. So by default your body needs to replenish that lost energy and one of the ways it does this is by sleeping. So you’ll find it easier to drop off but also the processes that your body undergoes when trying to recuperate the energy you’ve lost can actually be very stimulating. So you’ll wake up feeling better and more recharged as a result.
Several studies have been conducted on the effects of exercise on sleep. One study showed that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise in a week can provide up to a 65% increase in sleep quality. Another study, conducted over 16 weeks showed that 16 weeks of physical activity helped 17 people who suffered from insomnia sleep longer and better than a control group who didn’t have insomnia. So if sleep is a problem for you than getting more exercise may be the answer!
9. Exercise can help reduce pain:
It sounds like a contradiction (especially amongst those of us who have been injured while exercising!) but exercise has been shown to help people who suffer from chronic pain reduce their levels of pain. This is because of the chemicals that are released into your brain by frequent exercise which can help mask some of the painful symptoms of problems such as chronic low back pain, fibromyalgia, and chronic soft tissue disorder amongst others. So if you suffer from chronic pain why not give it a try?
10. Better self-esteem:
Finally, exercise can help improve your sense of self-esteem. Most of us judge ourselves by our appearance and feel that others do just the same. Exercising regularly will help improve the appearance of your body which in turn can start making you feel happy and proud to look in the mirror. So regular exercise can help you feel more body positive. And with the link between self-image and self-esteem being well documented than you should find frequent exercise helps to improve your self-esteem!
So there you have it! A quick whistlestop tour of some of the benefits exercise can bring. Why not give it a try and see if you notice some of these benefits yourself? And if there are any other benefits you’ve noticed than feel free to comment and let us all know 🙂
Thanks for reading!