If there was a new drug that suppressed your appetite, reduced your anxiety, and made you feel better about yourself, would you take it? What if it also helped you sleep better, and you could be more productive throughout the day? If you could have more energy, a sense of well-being, excitement and joy – then would it be worth your while? Have we got the prescription for you! It’s called exercise. While you’re getting physically stronger, your are also freeing your mind and feeding your soul.
When you exercise, your body releases dopamine, a chemical that makes you feel good. In Psychology Today, David J. Linden, PhD., mentions this about exercise: “Exercise has a dramatic anti-depressive effect. It blunts the brain’s response to physical and emotional stress. A regular exercise program produces a large number of changes in the brain, including the new growth and branching of small blood vessels and increases in the geometric complexity of some neuronal dendrites.” So feel-good chemicals plus complex changes equals less stress for you, and a sense of well-being that transcends the exercise session.
Part of the reason exercise helps your self-confidence is that when you become physically active, there are metabolic changes that occur, resulting in a healthier looking and feeling body. When we look better, we feel better about ourselves, especially with our culture’s emphasis on being fit and thin. The result is that we feel better about how we are presenting ourselves to the rest of the world. I think it transcends that, though; Exercising makes your body feel stronger, move faster, and function better. You are able to get up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing, for example. Your joints are better supported, resulting in more confidence in general movement and function. And you can get through your day better because you feel stronger and have better stamina. But it that isn’t enough reason yet for you to embrace movement, read on…
I hear a lot about sleep problems, both from clients and from friends. What I can tell you from firsthand experience is that if you exercise and move consistently throughout your day, you will sleep better, deeper, and feel well rested when you wake up. Every morning, I wake before my alarm, and my feet literally hit the ground running. But don’t just take my word for it…according to the National Sleep Foundation, exercise triggers a climb in body temperature, and the subsequent drop post-exercise can create a friendlier environment for your body to sleep. Because it also helps with anxiety, you will find that you rest better because your mind is more at ease.
At Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep, researchers don’t completely understand how physical activity improves sleep. “We may never be able to pinpoint the mechanism that explains how the two are related,” Charlene Gamaldo, M.D. says. “However, we do know that moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow wave sleep you get. Slow wave sleep refers to deep sleep, where the brain and body have a chance to rejuvenate. Exercise can also help to stabilize your mood and decompress the mind, a cognitive process that is important for naturally transitioning to sleep,” says Gamaldo.
Get More Done
I find that in my own life, discipline begets discipline. So when I’m actively paying attention to eating healthy foods and exercising with mindfulness, I’m also more organized in my work and home. When I’m feeling lazy about my food and movement, by contrast, I get more lax in my approach to other areas of my life. To be sure, I lead a more regimented life due to my job as a trainer and exercise instructor. I have to be on time, and I lead the accountability for my clients and participants. Still, we all can have the tendency to “fall off the wagon” temporarily. When you are moving regularly and with purpose, you will get more done during your day, and it will seem easier for you to accomplish your goals.
If you need someone to help you stay motivated and experience the amazing benefits of exercise, please reach out to me for a free fitness consultation! I’ll help you get started on your fitness journey!Set up a Free Fitness Consultation
Written by Melissa Abramovich, ACE CPT, NASM CGT, AAHFRP Medical Exercise Specialist at Elite Sports Club-River Glen
Melissa Abramovich went into Personal Training and Group Exercise instruction after successfully losing 140 pounds through healthy diet and exercise. Her desire to help others drove her forward into a career helping others to make healthier choices. She is an ACE certified personal trainer and now also a Medical Exercise Specialist (AAHFRP), helping clients with a myriad of health issues at Elite Sports Clubs. She holds a Bachelor’s degree, and many group exercise related certifications as well.