Do you want to be at your best the entire day – energetic and productive. Getting all the items on your to-do list checked?  Efficient in your tasks and, at day’s end, feeling good instead of worn out. What about sleeping soundly through the night and waking up refreshed and ready for the day?

Photo by Jenny Hill on Unsplash

Your not-so-secret weapon in all of this is exercise.  Exercise brings with it numerous mental and physical health benefits that contribute to your overall well-being. Yet, many of us have difficulty getting ourselves to do it and find it even more difficult to establish as a habit.  Let’s take a look at how exercise can benefit you:  

  • Reduction in stress, anxiety, depression:

Exercise is a great way to help you blow off steam.  The physical strength and stamina used during exercise release endorphins that relax your brain and ease  worry and tension. The physical stress of exercise lowers your heart rate and diverts your brain from mental stress. (Extra points if you exercise outdoors!)  Endorphins have also been shown to help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.

  • Mood booster:

Not only can exercise relieve stress, but it can also act as a mood booster, in fact, endorphins are also known as one of the “happiness hormones.”  This mood-boosting effect equates to the “runner’s high” we’ve all heard about, or the energized feeling of well-being we experience after a vigorous game of tennis or basketball.

  • A better sleep routine:

Exercise requires strength and exertion, using our muscles and tiring them out, ultimately tiring you out. Your body understands that it needs sleep for recovery, hence, you are more likely to fall asleep and stay asleep. Exercises such as yoga and stretches before bed relax your muscles, and calm your nervous system, helping increase the likelihood of restful sleep.  

  • Increases your energy:

Improved sleep helps us to wake up more energized and ready for the day.  Exercise helps us to maintain that energy because one of its benefits is improved circulation aiding in bringing more oxygen to your heart and muscles. Because of this your energy levels are increased. You’re more efficient and productive and think more clearly because you’re managing your stress levels more efficiently.

  • Improves memory:

Regular exercise works to protects your brain, too. The size of the hippocampus increases due to regular exercise. The hippocampus is the part of our brain related to learning and memory. Overall memory recall and retention is enhanced. The increased oxygen supply to the brain improves performance and enhances cognitive function.  

  • Increase in self-confidence:

Exercise is a boon to self-confidence for the simple reason that when we feel healthy, fit, and energetic we also feel better about ourselves.  Feeling that positive energy, we feel happier and more relaxed, and better able to manage stressful situations.  All of these add up to feeling more confident in our ability to navigate challenges that come up for us in our day-to-day. Also, because exercise requires discipline and determination, and builds both physical and mental strength, we feel more capable and confident in our bodies.  

How to achieve all these benefits?

Beginning with even ten minutes of exercise a day can make a difference in how you feel and operate.  Many people prefer to exercise first thing in the morning but choose the time that works best for you. It’s important to include cardio such as walking or jogging, but try  other activities, too – biking, swimming, aerobics, weight training, yoga, stretching. All of these can make a difference in how you feel. The simple, and most important, goal is to begin to make exercise a part of your regular routine.  Once you begin, it won’t be long before you are reaping its benefits.  You’re welcome!

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