It’s widely accepted as common knowledge that exercise can make us feel better. Certainly not breaking news, and nobody is resisting this notion. But, we actually have to commit to exercise and make fitness a priority to reap its full benefits.
Some may choose to start their mornings off with exercise to jumpstart the day, and others choose to blow off some steam after work. Find what works for you, but the bottom line is: Do it because it’s good for your body and your soul!
The benefits of exercise go beyond just looking good and fitting into your new jeans. Exercise reduces stress—which is great for your overall health—and that is great news for everybody!
The Many Ways One Can Reduce Stress
Stress is just a fact of life. But how we deal with it can make all the difference. Job? Significant other? In-laws? Those adorable children of yours? Yeah, all of these can bring us joy or stress. It’s impossible to eliminate it completely from our lives, but we can learn to manage it.
There are lots of ways to reduce stress. Some may choose to sit on a psychiatrist’s couch while others prefer talking things out with friends or family over a coffee. Taking a nap might help for some while others enjoy hobbies like knitting or Candy Crush or listening to music to distract them. Meditation, acupuncture, taking deep breaths and counting to 10 (thanks, Mom) can help us cope, but exercise is the one activity healthcare professionals universally agree is most beneficial to reduce stress.
Exercise for Your Body and Your Mind
We can often see the physical benefits of exercise as our body adjusts to the activity. But, improving your physical condition also can soothe the soul. For decades, doctors have told us to stay physically active, but in recent years it’s emerged that exercise is also considered vital for maintaining what we’ll call “mental fitness.” This mental fitness can significantly improve our brains while reducing stress.
So, how does this work exactly? Science.
It’s a neurochemical thing. Exercise reduces levels of our bodies’ stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol). Exercise also stimulates the production of endorphins. You’ve heard of these, right? These are the chemicals in our brain that are our bodies’ natural mood elevators. Bring on the endorphins, people!
Stress tends to sap our energy and distracts us from concentration and critical thinking. So, reducing stress is beneficial for scores of reasons. It affects the brain, and with the brain’s many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact because it’s all connected. Therefore it only makes sense that if your body feels better, so too, does your mind. Mental fitness, my friends!
Have A Plan and Stick to It
While stress may be a normal part of everyday life, we shouldn’t let it take us down completely. We have to manage it as best we can, and exercise is an easy way to make a real difference for your mental health. Many experts agree that all it takes is just five minutes of aerobic exercise each day to stimulate those endorphins, and if that’s all it takes, isn’t it worth a shot?