The Benefits of Exercise
We always hear people say that exercise is good for us. But, how exactly does exercise benefit us? There are many short-term and long-term benefits of engaging in regular exercise that vary from better mental health to increased productivity at work.
Exercise is an immediate energy booster. It may seem counterintuitive that working hard and expending a lot of energy to get in a good workout is actually an energy booster, but it’s true! This is because exercise increases the oxygen and nutrient flow to your tissues, which in turn increases the efficiency of your cardiovascular system. As a result, your heart and lung health improve, leading to increased energy.
Exercise improves cognitive function. It has been found that people who are physically active during or outside of work are about 11-15 percent more productive. In a study conducted at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that consistent aerobic exercise increases the size of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. In addition, research has shown that more active individuals are capable of processing information more quickly and respond more effectively to challenges while yielding a better result.
Exercise gives you a break from the daily stresses! Make sure to engage in exercise that you really enjoy, and this can really help you enjoy your days. It’s kind of like a mini vacation; you are allowed to have fun! Another great benefit of exercise is that it boosts self-confidence. Exercising helps you feel better about yourself physically and mentally; it helps you feel like you have more control of your life!
Exercise has been proven to improve mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Your brain and body are interconnected. So, although your brain controls your body, movement can help your brain as well! Regular exercise increases specific hormones in your body directly related to brain function and mood. In addition, regular aerobic exercise can help reduce anxiety. It can make the fight or flight response system in your brain less reactive to the environment and the fight or flight response has similar symptoms to what people with anxiety experience. By engaging in regular aerobic exercise, individuals struggling with anxiety begin to develop a tolerance for these fight or flight symptoms. Exercise is not a “cure-all” and should be used in conjunction with therapy dependent on individual circumstances, however, exercise can have very positive effects on mood disorders.
Exercise also has great physical benefits. Exercise helps control weight; it helps prevent weight gain or maintain weight loss. Exercise also helps strengthen muscles and bones in the body. This becomes especially important as we age; if we strengthen our muscles and bones in our younger years, we are much less likely to suffer from broken bones and falls. Exercise can help prevent or manage many common chronic health problems. Some of these include stroke, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, many types of cancer, dementia, and arthritis.
Incorporate exercise into your daily life:
It may seem like life is too busy to exercise regularly. You go to work early, and then come home to spend time with your family and friends. However, there are some simple and easy ways to incorporate exercise into your daily life without taking too much time away from other important things. Here are some things that you can do:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
- Go for a walk at your lunch break
- Sit on an exercise ball
- Park far away
- Stretch at your desk
- Workout first thing in the morning
- Track your steps
- Do jumping jacks or sit-ups during a commercial
- Do calf raises while you’re brushing your teeth
- Stand up when you get a phone call
- Walk or bike to the grocery store
- Go talk to your coworkers instead of emailing them
- Try a walking meeting
- Do yard work
- Get into housework 🙂
- Play sports instead of watching TV