We sort of knew this to be true already, but it’s always good to have more proof!
For the past decade or so, scientists have explored how exercising can affect mood and boost brain function. Across all ages and fitness levels (from mall walkers to triathletes) making time for exercise can be one of the most important things you do for your mental health. Here are a few reasons that joining a fitness class, popping in that “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” VHS tape (LOVE Richard Simmons…best Halloween costume ever, but I digress) or biking to work can lead to an overall happier and healthier life.
1. Reduce stress. One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Working up a sweat increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.
2. Endorphins. Exercise releases these hormones which create feelings of euphoria and contentment. Studies have shown that in some cases, exercise can be just as effective as antidepressant pills in treating depression.
3. Improve self-confidence. Working out will make bathing suit shopping WAY more fun. But in general, being physically fit can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Regardless of weight, size, gender, or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person’s perception of his or her attractiveness ( they did a study on that too…obv.)
4. Stay sharp ( and toned). Working out can help protect the brain against cognitive decline that usually begins after age 45. Exercising, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.
5. Alleviate anxiety. Quick Q&A: Which is better at relieving anxiety — a glass of wine and the Bachelorette, or a 20-minute jog? (You already know the answer to this one…) The warm and fuzzy chemicals that are released during and after exercise can help people with anxiety calm down. Bad day? Go for a jog, and then watch The Bachelorette with a Pinot Noir. Win-Win!!
6. Be more productive. Research shows that workers who exercise on a regular basis are more energetic and productive than their sedentary peers. While busy schedules can make it tough to squeeze in a gym session in the middle of the day, some experts believe that noon is the ideal time for a workout due to the body’s circadian clock. Ask your boss about starting a lunch time “power hour” class in your boardroom (And if you’re the boss, email me – the Belles will hook your team up!)
Now, if you really want to put a smile on your face before you go workout, check out this google image search of Richard Simmons. He’s a legend! Sweat it out guys…any way you like. It all counts!