When we are feeling tired or on the verge of getting sick, exercise is probably the last thing on our mind. However, doing some exercise, even a small amount, can have a big effect on our energy level and immune system. A regular routine of exercise has many positive outcomes for our body, mind, and soul. No caffeine or other stimulant needed. “People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being,” according to Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Melinda Smith, M.A.
Frequent exercise can increase your muscle strength and stamina. Exercise carries oxygen and nutrients throughout your body and improves the function of your cardiovascular system. More oxygen and a better functioning cardiovascular system give you more energy to accomplish more tasks. You may think that sitting on the couch and watching TV or surfing the Internet would conserve energy, thereby giving the energy to get things done. It actually has the opposite effect so get on up and take a walk.
Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and/or burn more calories in order to lose weight. The more exercise you do, the more calories you burn. It can be as easy as parking farther away from a store or the front door of work. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown gym exercise class in order to burn those extra calories. Better yet, take a walk at lunch to a local restaurant that has healthy food choices.
It was already mentioned that exercise improves the function of the cardiovascular system, therefore, preventing heart disease. It can also enhance good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol. Other disease risks that exercise diminishes are stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and arthritis. (www.mayoclinic.org) Any way to limit or eliminate any of the diseases is a good thing to put into your daily routine.
Exercise increases the production of a variety of brain chemicals that make you feel happy and relaxed. If you are maintaining a healthy weight or lose weight due to your exercise routine, you may feel an increase in self-confidence and self-love. Also, when exercising, your mind is concentrating on the exercise you are doing so you aren’t thinking or worrying about things that might negatively affect your mood.
When you expend energy while exercising, you tire the muscles in your body, which will make you fall asleep easier. Being physically tired can slow down your busy mind which can also help you fall asleep and stay asleep, making for a better night’s sleep. Who could run a marathon and not have the best night’s sleep they’ve ever had? “Managing stress and ensuring a routine of plentiful, high quality sleep is critical to protecting your health,” says Michael J Breus Ph.D.
Joining a gym, studio, running club, etc gives you a social outlet where you will be surrounded by like-minded people. Engaging with others whom you have something in common with can give you a feeling of community and belonging. Just being at a class can give you the opening of a conversation that could lead to a lifelong friendship or to someone who you can exercise with, thus keeping you on track.
“Working up a sweat can help manage physical and mental stress. Exercise also increases levels of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.”(www.greatist.com/fitness/13-awesome-mental-health-benefits-execise) Have you ever jumped on an elliptical or gone to a boxing class after a tough day at work? You feel so much better after that class. That is the pure stress reduction effect of exercise. “Exercise is an excellent outlet for stress, which exacerbates symptoms,” says Marwa Azab Ph.D.
Weight-bearing exercises can slow down the decrease in bone density. This includes aerobic and muscle-strengthening workouts. Walking is considered a weight-bearing exercise because you are carrying the weight of your body as you walk. Any type of class that uses hand weights is also a great addition to any exercise routine.