Regular exercise and physical fitness has been linked to health benefits for centuries. Some of the major benefits that regular exercise and fitness brings are of course – weight management, reduction in heart disease, preventing depression and the list goes on and on…
Exercise does not only improve physical health but it is also very beneficial for your mental health. Ideally, whatever is good for your heart is also good for your brain. You need to understand that everything in your body is linked and every form of exercise, either physical or mental, can benefit the whole body.
Since, living conditions have become more and more comfortable and living standards have been increasing in many countries around the globe, some of us have become lazy and neglected exercise and its benefits.
Looking back at the primal humans, where houses had to be built by humans, as well as food had to be hunted and harvested by humans also, we can accept the fact that any form of bodily movement – building, climbing, walking and using your body in order to complete the task is quite common for us. Let’s not forget our roots and use our bodies to benefit ourselves both physically and mentally.
Despite the fact, that some of us have ceased and abandoned physical exercise, we still live in the world of information that is approachable for us by the click of a finger, therefore we need to use such information to benefit ourselves.
A study carried out in 2009, where 170 participants were recruited, complaining about memory problems, for example, entering the room and forgetting the reason for it, forgetting where they have put the keys, forgetting things occasionally, but not meeting the criteria for dementia. The participants were allocated into educational and usual care groups and the education group were provided a 24-week training program, for home use only and the results have showed that participants that were allocated in the intervention group and provided a 24-week training program have improved their cognition by a modest amount whilst the care group have deteriorated.
Another study carried out by University of British Columbia, suggested that aerobic exercise that is performed regularly by older women with slight cognitive impairment, boosts hippocampus – the areas that is involved in learning and memory. As a matter of fact, aerobic exercise has increased its size, which resulted in better memory and learning abilities.
Improves mental health
Physical exercise is directly linked to mental health and has got a lot of benefits related to mental health. Performing regular exercise can boost ones self-esteem and make one feel better about themselves, which can result in better quality of life. Despite the boost in self-esteem, it can also be beneficial for anxiety and depression treatment. A study published by Cambridge University argues that there are sufficient evidence to support that exercise can be used as a treatment for clinical depression. In some cases of global self-esteem, exercise can also be used in order to improve self-perceptions, boost confidence and help to treat anxiety. Overall, the study suggests that better cognitive function in older adults, improved mental health and mental well-being can be achieved via regular moderate exercise.
Oh Dopamine… The good ol’ friend, responsible for that feeling of achievement. We are all familiar with dopamine. As a matter of fact, our brains release it every day, for some the quantities are higher and for some they are a bit lower, depending on your lifestyle and your habits. Dopamine is released whilst doing things you enjoy the most, eating chocolate, getting a good grade and also, during and after exercise. People with dopamine deficiency have a higher chance of gaining weight, so dopamine is another good reason to exercise, not only because it will help you with weight management, but also because it will make you feel good mentally.
Serotonin is another hormone that we are very familiar with. It is responsible for a restful sleep, happiness, appetite, maintaining mood balance, memory, sexual desire and function. Serotonin is released by our brain and intestines, so as I have already mentioned, whatever is good for your heart is also good for your brain – meaning that regular exercise can help to maintain healthy serotonin levels. Also, diet plays an important role in the release of serotonin, meaning that healthy eating habits will help you to keep serotonin at healthy levels. Exercise has got antidepressant features and can help to increase serotonin function, which will make you feel good and help you to live quality life.
Improves focus and concentration
This is something that I have experienced myself. Regular exercise, goal setting and focusing on my workouts have helped me to develop great ability to focus and finish the task, without procrastinating. I have found that exercise helps me to take my negative energy out and allow myself to feel more positive. Because I have trained for quite a long time, persistently and with a lot of precision, I have acquired the ability to focus and simply have become a person who “gets things done”.
A study on Dutch school pupils suggests that 20-minute of aerobic exercise has improved the attention spans of the pupils aged 10-13, allowing them to be more focused and concentrated during their lessons at school. Another study in Germany, where teenagers were given a 10-minute exercise where coordination skills were involved and it has shown to improve the attention and cognitive function of the teens.
Because exercise requires a lot of attention and concentration, you automatically allow your body to train these abilities. No wonder, why Physical Education is included in most primary and secondary school programs. The benefits of physical exercise have been known for centuries, therefore children are being engaged in it since childhood.
The benefits of physical exercise are evident and the list of studies that suggest about the benefits of exercise, goes on and on. There are a lot of both physical and mental benefits that every human being can benefit from, including improved mental state, reduced anxiety and improved memory, concentration and well-being, both physically and mentally. Let’s not neglect the fact that physical exercise is good for us. Every successful entrepreneur and CEO knows that regular exercise is essential in order to be productive and stay on top of the game. Whatever form of exercise you choose, it will come with more benefits than drawbacks, so choose something that you enjoy and embrace a happy, joyful and quality life.
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