Ever wondered why some people get hooked on exercise? Yes, it’s partly because they know it’s doing them good, but it also provides an immediate sense of wellbeing that lingers throughout the day.
Reduced anxiety and happier moods
When you exercise, your brain chemistry changes through the release of endorphins (‘feel good’ hormones), which can calm anxiety and lift your mood.
Reduced feelings of stress
You may experience reductions in feelings of stress and tension as your body is better able to control cortisol levels.
Some people find exercise helps to break up racing thoughts. As your body tires so does your mind, leaving you calmer and better able to think clearly.
When faced with mental or emotional challenges, exercise can help you cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol or other negative behaviours which will ultimately only make your symptoms worse. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress.
A greater sense of calm
Simply taking time out to exercise can give you space to think things over and help your mind feel calmer.
When you start to see your fitness increase and your body improve, it can give your self-esteem a big boost. The sense of achievement from learning new skills and achieving your goals can help you feel better about yourself and lift your mood.
Reduced risk of depression
If you're more active there's good evidence of a trend toward lower rates of depression. One study found that by increasing your activity levels from doing nothing to exercising at least three times a week, you can reduce your risk of depression by almost 20 per cent.
Sharper memory and thinking
The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.
Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.
Increasing your heart rate several times a week will give you more get-up-and-go. Start off with just a few minutes of exercise each day, and increase your workout as you feel more energised.