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Who doesn’t want long lasting health? For most people, attaining long lasting health is a struggle. Between working and caring for themselves and their family, many people are too busy to focus on their health and wellness.
To stay healthy, you need a balanced diet, proper nutrients, adequate rest, and regular exercise. However, without exercising, even a good diet can’t save you from poor health.
Want to avoid poor health? Here are five reasons exercise is the answer.
Exercise improves brain function
Exercising can help you get out of a slow, sluggish space by making your brain work more efficiently. For example, exercise enlarges the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, which improves your ability to process information, learn, and remember information. These are just some of the physiological and psychological advantages of exercise.
When your brain function improves, your ability to concentrate increases. Thanks to neuroplasticity, you’ll even form new brain cells.
Exercise boosts energy levels
Have you ever noticed the more you exercise, the more energetic you become? Exercise increases endorphins, which create that ‘high’ you feel when you exercise intensely.
Getting this type of high is a good sign. It means you’re getting more energy and it’s also a natural mood enhancer.
Exercise helps you sleep better
About 70% of people in the US suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. The most common disorders are insomnia and sleep deprivation. Insomnia makes it hard or impossible to fall asleep and some people stay up for days at a time.
When you don’t sleep, your mood takes a dive, and your body is flooded with stress hormones. Having a high amount of cortisol and adrenaline rushing through your body for a long period of time can do serious damage to your kidneys and other bodily systems.
The effects of sleep deprivation are similar to insomnia, but you can sleep for 12 hours a night and still be sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation occurs when you don’t get a full night’s sleep, and your body doesn’t complete all the usual sleep cycles, including deep REM sleep.
A study published in 2015 showed that increasing physical activity improved sleep and mood in participants with insomnia. Participants engaged in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise over a week.
Great sleep is the key to long-lasting health. If you struggle with sleep, exercise will help.
Exercise can alleviate depression
Depression isn’t good for long-term health. In addition to enabling the body to deteriorate quickly, lingering depression can lead to suicide ideation.
When you exercise, you change your brain in positive ways. You create new neural pathways and become energized from endorphins. When you’re depressed, exercising is an opportunity to induce a higher state of mind and make yourself feel better without having to battle your mind. All you need to do is get up and start moving, and you’ll start to feel better.
According to data published by Helpguide.com, walking or running for just 15 minutes per day can reduce your risk of major depression by 26%. If you continue exercising, you can prevent yourself from relapsing into even minor depression.
Next time you’re feeling blue, try exercising and see how it makes you feel. You might be surprised at how much better you feel.
Exercise helps reduce anxiety and PTSD symptoms
When you’re anxious or dealing with the effects of PTSD triggers, exercise can work wonders. Since exercise elevates mood by releasing endorphins, this can overpower the existing state of your nervous system. If you’re feeling anxious or angry, the endorphins will bring a sense of energetic calm over your body.
Exercise also increases focus and attention, which can drastically reduce anxiety symptoms and bring you back to a state of calm.
When you’re dealing with PTSD triggers, you’re more than likely stuck in “fight or flight” mode. Exercise can help you get unstuck. With the increased focus, your mind won’t wander, and you’ll have more control over your mental and physical reactions.
Exercise is no longer a natural part of our day – carve out time
There was a time when people didn’t have to carve time out of their day to exercise. Before computers and the internet became the world’s main source of entertainment and commerce, most people worked physically demanding jobs.
If you want to remain healthy as you get older, you need to exercise regularly. Unless your day job is physically demanding, you’ll need to set aside time to exercise or you’re unlikely to stay committed.
Be forewarned: exercise is addicting. Once you start feeling better in your mind and body, there will be no going back.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health and well-being.
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