Of all the different ways to improve your physical and mental health, exercise is one of the easiest and safest methods. It is also one of the most effective. Even a little regular exercise can help ease depression, boost energy and mood, and relieve stress. But you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. No matter your age, health limitations, or fitness levels, there are enjoyable ways to use physical activity to feel better every day.
The life-changing benefits of exercise
Exercise is not just about aerobic capacity and muscle size. Sure, exercise improves your health and your physique, but it has even greater benefits for your energy, mood, and brainpower. A study in the ACSM Journal of Health & Fitness asked long-term exercisers (those who had been regularly exercising for an average of 13 years) what motivated them to continue exercising. Rather than being motivated by building muscle or flattening their stomachs, for example, most exercisers cited the feelings of well-being they derived from exercise, along with increased pep and energy, and how exercise helped them sleep better and made them more relaxed.
Regular mild to moderate exercise can improve your life by:
Easing stress and anxiety
A twenty-minute bike ride won’t sweep away life’s troubles, but exercising regularly helps you take charge of anxiety and reduce stress. Aerobic exercise releases hormones that relieve stress and promote a sense of well-being.
Lifting your mood
Exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. Exercise also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energizes your spirits and makes you feel good.
The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.
Regular activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. When it becomes habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful.
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 a day, and increase your workout as you feel more energized.