Home / Advice / So why is exercise so important? (part 1)

 

Ooooo this is opening a huge can O worms here, right? Why is exercise important? I’m not talking about sweat til you pass out, run til you drop, push yourself to the limit type exercise here – let’s be clear. I’m talking about stepping up what exercise you do, sure, but also just living a more active life in general, not sitting around watching your kids grow up and letting life pass you by.

We can break it down into 2 main areas – Mental and Physical reasons. I know most people think of the physical reasons (aka weight loss) first, but I’m going to go against the grain. Next week we can talk about the physical benefits.


Mental benefits of exercise´╗┐

Yeah, yeah, there’s more physical reasons why exercise is important, than there is mental, BUT. In my view, from both personal experience, as well as from clients I have worked/currently work with – the mental benefits come sooner, and spill over into physical benefits very quickly. And also there are some pretty amazing physical benefits, no doubt, the mental benefits are even more important to my thinking. So. What are they?

  • Reduce your stress levels. At the end of a tough day at work/with the kids, it might not seem very tempting to get in some exercise, but that’s exactly what you SHOULD do. Exercising helps to manage mental stress, and at the same time also ups the levels of
    norepinephrine in your body, which is the chemical that helps moderate your body’s reaction to stress. And as an added advantage, just the exercise itself helps to combat the stress you are already feeling!
  • Improve your self confidence. Yep, it’s true. Even if you might feel all hot and sweaty post exercise, have you ever noticed you also feel better in yourself, like you’re doing something important for you? Bet you have!
  • Boost your brain’s “happy” chemicals. You’ve probably heard this one before. Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make us happy. In some people, who are maybe just feeling a little down, not necessarily clinically depressed, exercise, along with good sleep habits and decent food, and completely reverse these symptoms, and even with those with more serious mental health issues, Doctors will often prescribe regular exercise as part of the patients treatment plan.
  • Reduce anxiety. I know this one from personal experience. Regular exercise (again, not necessarily intense), can help to hugely reduce levels of anxiety. Again, it’s all to do with those endorphins I mentioned above, and I can personally note that as soon as I am back into regular patterns of exercise, not only do I sleep better, but I also just feel a lot more chilled out, and the longer I stick with it, the better this becomes. It’s pretty amazing!
  • Improve your memory. I didn’t know this one until only recently. Regular exercise helps to increase the production of cells in the hippocampus, which is the part of the body that controls learning and memory.
  • Improved sleep and relaxation. Have you ever noticed how much better you sleep when you are exercising regularly? That’s because exercise raises your body’s core temperature, and when it comes back down again some time later, that tells your body it’s time for nie-nies. This is why people with insomnia would be wise to implement a regular exercise plan.
  • Get the creative juices flowing. This is another one I can vouch for. I do some of my best thinking when I’m out for a walk, alone, with the earphones in. Moderate to intense exercise can boost your creativity for up to 2 hours afterwards, so if you’re suffering some writers block, or just can’t figure something out, go for a walk!
  • Reduce addiction. This was another new one to me. In response to any form of pleasure, wherever it may come from, the brain releases dopamine. But this can be a highly addictive “high”, and the person becomes addicted to the method they are getting the dopamine release from (think drugs, alcohol, sex, even food). Exercise can be a highly effective distraction from cravings, and also helps to reset the body in terms of sleeping better. Both very good reasons to implement some exercise!
  • Delay the onset of diseases such as Alzheimers. While exercise cannot CURE Alzheimers Disease, it can help to strengthen the chemicals in your brain that are responsible for learning and memory (the Hippocampus, again), and so exercise helps prevent the degeneration as aging occurs.
  • Be more productive. I’m sure a lot of us could do with this, right? People who fit exercise into their day tend to be more organised, productive and more energetic than those who don’t exercise regularly. If you find yourself staring into the computer screen, zoning out, try getting up and walking around for 5 minutes. Ideally outside, but do what you can manage.

So what do you think? That’s 10 amazing reasons why we should ALL be moving more. Like I said, we don’t have to be training for a marathon, nor a body building competition, but just some regular, moderate exercise most days of the week (every day if you can), will give you so many mental health benefits, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to get up and start moving more?

Want to move on to the PHYSICAL reasons why exercise is so important? Click here!!

Don’t forget, there’s an early bird release of my June round of Happier Healthier Fitter! It’s all online, and runs for 10 weeks. Head here to find out more, and when you’re ready to join us, use the code EARLYBIRD to get a discount!

Let’s chat again next week!

Nikki

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