Exercise is crucial for mind and body
There are many ways we tend to de-stress after a heavy day, while some people’s idea of relaxation is a glass of wine and binge watching a Netflix series, others would rather a more active approach. For some, a three-mile run is their idea of hell, for others, it is the perfect way to unwind from a stressful day at the office.
Physical activity been found to destress, it has also been scientifically proven to reduce anxiety and depression – acting as a ‘first aid kit’ for damaged brain cells.
“The benefits of exercise can be the natural feel good hormones that help to provide a boost and happy hormones,” say an online blogger, who juggles being a mum of two with online blogging. She uses exercise to enhance her life. “It helps me when I struggle with anxiety.”
Aerobic exercises, for example jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, dancing and even gardening, have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression. These activities help to improve moods because of the increase of blood circulation to the brain. When one does exercises like the activities above, the amount of blood circulating through the brain increases influencing the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis and therefore reducing stress.
The Assistant manager of better gym Bournemouth feels that going to the gym “helps a lot for stress, people come into our Gym when they’re feeling stressed.”
She added “It can also help with your own routine, if you’re working hard at work you can just come in regularly to have normality and it’s a break from doing things for other people, it can help me to focus on myself”.
“if I’m feeling low or upset or angry it is a good thing to help level me out”.
Yes okay but how does it actually work?
Exercise increases our heart rates and pumps more oxygen into the brain. Exercise also helps the production of ‘plethora’ hormones which helps to produce an environment where brain cells can grow.
Exercise has also been found to have an antidepressant type effect on the body associated with ‘runners high’, found because of the decrease of stress hormones and the endorphin rush – as if you needed any more motivation to strive for that summer bod!
Not only this but it has also been proven that exercise in the form of running creates more cell growth in the hippocampus an area of the brain which improves memory and learning.
Although ‘any exercise is good exercise’, cognitive functions have been proven to be improved through certain types of exercise that combine physical activity with mental activity, for example dancing. Ballroom dancing is a known activity to effectively socialise and get moving!
Morning exercise has proven to prepare you for the day and also complex situations that you might have to deal with during the day, it can also improve your sleep. However, exercise at night can have the opposite effect as it can increase brain activity therefore leave you feeling restless.
Exercise can also help us to stick to non- exercise related goals that require long term effort because of the persistency required within cardio activities.
Exercise without moving so much…
Yogi’s tranquillity. The body’s stress response is not entirely out of our control – although it feels like it at times. Yoga creates a relaxation response through controlled breathing and subtle movement forcing the body to unwind. Studies have proven that the part of the brain related to stress has become smaller due to yoga related activities.
Keeping the body young and the brain even younger…
30 – 45 excise 3 times a week has proven to prevent the brain cells from being damaged, decreasing the risk of dementia – need I say anymore…
it’s not just the fitness aspect that can improve our mental state, but the aspects of life that we are able to appreciate when participating in sporting activities. A coordinator for a surfing and mental health organisation shared his personal experience,
“Mental health is a difficult one, no matter what loving environment you come from, how successful you are or popular you are, if your brain wants to think the opposite, then it will. That’s why so many people find it so hard to understand what we go through”.
“when I was at my lowest, surfing was my time out, a time to reflect and find peace, being in the water is calming, floating on your own in the sea air, no matter what challenges the day threw at me, an hour in the water would make everything drift away”. He adds.
By Eliza Lyons