Anita Parker October 20, 2014
2. A clear mind & enhanced focus. Exercise increases oxygen and blood flow through your entire body, and it removes you from the hustle bustle of the day. If you have a problem to solve or need a fresh perspective, get exercising. The rhythmic, repetitive movement of a workout is like an active meditation. It removes the clutter of a situation, keeps in you in the present moment, and allows light bulb moments to happen. Your best ideas will come to you while you are chugging along on the treadmill or descending a mountain trail on your bike.
3. Less crankiness & more joy. Do you ever feel like you could make a list of 50 things going sideways in your life? Chances are 49 of those things will correct themselves if you simply head to the gym. Exercise releases a flood of chemicals called endorphins. These neurotransmitters have a similar feel-good effect on the body as opiates but without the addiction. Endorphins stimulate lovely positive feelings and decrease the perception of pain. Beyond day-to-day moodiness, exercise-induced endorphins are also an important component of treating depression.
4. Stress reduction & resilience. In addition to endorphin surges, regular exercise is key for reducing and managing the negative effects of stress on our body systems. Stress releases cortisol and adrenaline, two hormones with the potential to cause a cascade of health problems. Obesity, heart disease, headaches, and gastrointestinal problems are just a few examples of illnesses built on a foundation of stress. One workout at a time you can improve your body’s resilience to stress, decreasing the overall amount of cortisol and adrenaline released.
5. Improved self-identity & social connections. Whether you’re a yogi, dancer, skier, body builder or all of the above, a strong physical body helps you engage in your world with good self-esteem. What you choose to do for exercise is part of who you are, just as is your style of clothing, talents and hobbies. Exercise is also a vehicle for social interactions with others, and current research strongly connects this with overall physical health, happiness and longevity.
In our often-disconnected Western world we try to separate our physical and emotional selves. Really, they are one and the same. Physical and emotional responses to regular exercise, one workout at a time, week after week, can be tracked down to the molecular level in every cell in our body. And since we have 37 trillion cells head to toe, it’s worth taking care of them. Even if your prime motivation for exercising is purely physical, you'll savour the many emotional benefits that join the ride.