Many people start working out to improve their cardiovascular health, build muscle, and lose weight. But movement is medicine, and exercising has so many other benefits too!
People who work out regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They have more energy, sleep better, have improved memories, and feel more relaxed. It’s also powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.
When faced with challenges in life, exercise can help you cope healthily instead of resorting to destructive coping mechanisms like alcohol, drugs, or other harmful behaviour. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system, and that, in turn, will reduce the impact of stress.
Regular movement can positively impact depression, anxiety, and ADHD. You don’t have to be a gym rat to reap the rewards. Studies show that modest amounts of exercise can make a huge difference. So no matter your experience, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to deal with mental or physical health problems and get the most out of your life.
During exercise, a chemical hormone in our brain is released, a natural pain killer. This keeps our mood happy and decreases stress and anxiety.
Anxiety can be debilitating to live with. One way to help yourself cope with anxiety is to use movement. Exercise, particularly aerobic activity, has been shown to reduce both anxiety and your perception of stress. It is considered one of the most effective natural cures for anxiety disorders.
Try to notice the sound of your feet hitting the ground, the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin. By adding this mindfulness element, you’ll not only improve your physical condition faster, but you may also be able to interrupt the anxiousness you may be feeling.
If you struggle with depression, exercise can help tremendously. Even people with severe, major depression can benefit. In addition, aerobic exercise often boosts endorphins, and neurotransmitters like dopamine can make us feel good about ourselves. As a result, activity is one of the top natural cures for depression.
Working out helps your mental function. Exercise increases energy levels, which increases serotonin in the brain. This then leads to improved mental clarity.
It has also been proven that young adults who exercise experience an increase in intelligence scores compared to people who don’t.
Some people are naturally very intelligent, but if you want to improve your intelligence, scientific research suggests that exercise can do just that.
In a study by Steinberg et al. (1997), exercise enhanced creativity independently of mood. The study used 63 people and had some of them participate in an aerobic workout. The others did no exercise or were “neutral.” The research also considered “mood”, which was measured using a list of adjectives.
Creative thinking was tested by three measures of the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT). The research demonstrated that mood and creativity improved independently due to aerobic exercise. So your workout session could boost your creativity and intuitive thinking!
When you need help coming up with your next big idea, go for a walk or run to refresh your body and brain simultaneously.
Got 15 Minutes?
Fifteen minutes a day is all it takes. Are you convinced yet? I sure hope so! Movement is the best thing we can do for our emotional, mental, and physical well-being, and therefore one of the critical elements of personal growth and development.
Suppose you don’t have time for 15 or 30 minutes of exercise. Or if your body tells you to take a break after only a few minutes, that’s fine, too.
Start with five or 10-minute sessions and slowly increase your time. The more you work out, the more energy you’ll have, so eventually, you’ll feel ready to add more.
The key is just to get started!
As exercising becomes a habit, you can slowly add extra minutes or try different activities. If you keep at it, the benefits of exercise will begin to pay off surprisingly quickly.
A UK study found that people who only exercise during the weekend experience almost as many health benefits as those who work out more often. So don’t let being too busy be an excuse to avoid exercise entirely. Something is better than nothing.