Fitness goals are usually focused on inches and pounds. We obsess about clothing size, waistline, and the scale. However, in our preoccupation with physical appearance, we sometimes neglect the important, yet invisible benefits of working out. Exercise is great for the brain, not just the body!
DOCTOR HOY’S™ family, Aabri, Rylan, and kids, hiking together.
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
Studies show that physical activity used to improve the body, also helps the brain. For example, a recent study revealed that adults who moved more scored better on memory and thinking tests and decreased the risk of dementia. Another study suggests that a hormone released during exercise protects against Alzheimer’s.
We all know the exhilarating feeling of accomplishment after a good workout. That euphoria actually occurs because of what is happening inside the brain. Exercise causes the body to release chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins react with the receptors in the brain to reduce pain and inflammation and improve blood flow. This explains the mental benefits of exercise including, easing anxiety and depression, reducing stress, boosting self-esteem, and improving sleep.
Physiology Can Change Psychology
The past year has been difficult for everyone, especially mentally. Collectively and individually, we have faced unique uncertainties, inducing fear, anxiety, and loneliness. Like many, I simultaneously experienced uncertainties about the pandemic, isolation in quarantine, a personal health crisis, disturbing headlines, and natural disasters. My mental health suffered and even basic daily responsibilities seemed difficult at times.
However, my outlook and energy improved when I made an effort to move my body. It was as simple as turning on a favorite song and dancing while doing the dishes, or walking around the block. The type of workout didn’t matter. Exercise always cleared the cobwebs in my mind and helped me feel better mentally and physically.
Changing our physiology has the power to change our psychology. In other words, get moving for your brain! Even a good stretch makes a difference.
A New Approach to Fitness Resolutions
The new year usually brings new fitness resolutions. There are a variety of reasons it’s easy to give these up.
- A strict and unrealistic diet.
- Feeling exhausted and sore after new workouts.
- Discouragement from a lack of weight loss or other desired results.
Instead of giving up on unrealistic resolutions, set an easy goal. Here is a fail-proof idea:
Move the body every day for the brain.
Daily exercise, without the pressure of weight loss, is an obtainable goal. The simplicity of exercising for mental health leaves wiggle room for those unexpected bad days. For example, some days moving the body might involve just stretching or walking, other days a long run or weight lifting. Consistency will skyrocket because it is something you can accomplish every day, even if it is a short walk during a lunch break. When exercise is a daily habit, you will find both physical and mental successes.
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