When you exercise, you’re not only improving your physical fitness, but you are also improving your emotional and mental well-being. You feel less anxious, more optimistic and confident, and your concentration and focus improve.
Stress, Depression, and Endorphins
Moving your body releases endorphins, feel-good hormones that reduce your perception of pain but also can help stave off anxiety and feelings of depression. So powerful are these hormones that research has shown exercise to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression. Concentration, focus, and memory are also improved when endorphins are released as they stimulate the growth of new brain cells. Exercise helps regulate cortisol levels, which is a hormone that is often associated with stress.
ADHD, PTSD, and Self-Esteem
In addition to the release of endorphins and regulation of cortisol levels, exercise can help reduce symptoms of ADHD and PTSD. In people with ADHD, exercise has been shown to improve attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. In those with PTSD, exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Regular exercise can also boost self-esteem, which is an important component of mental health. By setting goals and achieving them through physical activity, individuals can feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in their abilities. This can translate into other areas of life, such as work or relationships.
No More Counting Sheep
There’s no other feeling like the feeling of being well-rested. Your mood improves, you are more productive, you feel less stressed, and your memory improves. The good news is that exercise can help you get high-quality sleep and reduce the time it takes you to get to sleep when you go to bed. How? Regular exercise increases the body’s core temperature. Researchers think that when you go to bed, it’s the fall from that higher core temperature that helps the brain slow down and become sleepy.
However, it is important to be mindful of your timing. Minimize vigorous exercise just before bed, as this can have the opposite effect on your ability to both get to sleep and stay asleep.
What Type of Exercise is Best?
Do what you love and what you will stick with! People often speak of the runner’s high when they talk about the release of endorphins during exercise, but the fact is that almost any type of moderate aerobic exercise or movement can improve your mood. Brisk walking or hiking, a game of Pickleball, a fitness class, cycling, swimming, weightlifting circuits or bodyweight exercises can all give you the same effect.
If you have not exercised for a while, start off slowly. You want to keep exercising over the long term, so injuring yourself with overly ambitious routines would be counterproductive. Some people find that an educated and qualified personal trainer is the ideal way to begin. A personal trainer will start you out at the level and with exercises that are exactly right for you. They will also correct your form if necessary so that you avoid injury.
Do vary your exercise routine. Both your body and mind will get more benefits if you’re not always doing the same thing. Sometimes a meditative walk or hike by yourself might be what you need to feel uplifted. While on other days, a vigorous, music-driven fitness class with friends might be the ticket for improving your mood.
Paperny Family JCC Can Help!
Ultimately, physical health and mental well-being go hand-in-hand. Incorporating exercise into your everyday life is an essential part of achieving a healthy balance between body and mind.
Paperny Family JCC offers a range of fitness programs that can help individuals achieve their fitness goals and improve their mental health. From personal trainers and a well-appointed fitness centre to fitness classes, Pickleball, and yoga or spin classes – there is something for everyone!
Take the first step to a healthier, happier you by checking out the JCC’s fitness programs now. Your body and mind will thank you for it later.