You may already know that physical exercise is great for your body, but did you know that it can reduce your stress levels, improve your sleep and boost your self-esteem, too?
Even better – you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to experience mental and emotional benefits since even moderate amounts of exercise can make a big difference to your wellbeing. Whatever your age or fitness level, use physical activity to reap the following benefits.
Reduce stress and anxiety
Tense muscles, shoulder discomfort and painful headaches – we’re all familiar with the physical symptoms of stress. The good news is that exercise can effectively break this cycle. Because your body and mind are so closely linked, when you improve how you feel physically, your mind gets a boost out of it, too. Interestingly, exercise provides stress relief for the body while imitating the effects of stress, such as the flight or fight response. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, exercise benefits your cardiovascular, digestive and immune system by helping protect your body from harmful effects of stress.
Ever had that ‘runner’s high’ feeling? Exercise reduces your levels of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators, which are responsible for feelings of relaxation and optimism – also known as that ‘runner’s high’. Because exercise lowers our stress levels and relieves anxiety and depression, it makes us feel happier, more relaxed and less anxious.
Having trouble getting that all-important shut-eye? Regular exercise can not only help you fall asleep much faster, but also experience a better and deeper sleep once you manage to drift off. There is evidence that exercise does, in fact, help us fall asleep more quickly and improves the quality of sleep, but there is still some debate on what time of day exactly is best for getting a workout. Nevertheless, moderate aerobic exercise, in particular, increases the amount of slow wave sleep, which is the deep sleep that lets our brain and body recharge and rejuvenate. If you enjoy a morning workout, short bursts of exercise can help regulate your sleep patterns, while a relaxing yoga or stretching session at night can also promote sleep.
One of the sure-fire ways exercise can boost your confidence is by making you look better, more toned and perhaps even contributing to weight loss. Increased physical activity can directly influence your self-esteem and is very important when it comes to living a successful and satisfying life. Any form of exercise, no matter how great or small, is beneficial for both physical and mental health – but regular exercise can help us to build confidence, while setting challenges with mini-goals along the way can give us a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. What better way to feel empowered about taking on life’s challenges?
Increase cognitive function
Want to sharpen your memory and problem-solving skills? Staying physically active can stimulate the growth of new brain cells and can even help prevent age-related decline. A study from the University of British Columbia found that regular aerobic exercise – the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping – appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Meanwhile, endurance exercise was found to be the best way to protect the body’s metabolism from the effects of age.
Exercise is key to a happier, healthier and more productive life – so why not get started and help your customers and employees on their journey to wellness today?