I like to think that I’m quite an active person. I also know that when I’m battling to pull myself out of a mental slump, exercise is the last thing on my mind even though I know that I will feel so much better if I just force myself to be active.
After reading more information related to exercise and brain activity, I have had that ah-ha moment about myself, it’s what got me up this morning and had me motivated to go for a run.
Exercise doesn’t need to be a crazy, physical workout where you’re having to break a sweat or push through something strenuous. It is simply being more cognizant of moving around during the day. So if you’re someone who works behind a computer screen all day, walk around every hour. Just doing something to move your body is better than nothing.
Exercise and its benefits
- Exercise gives you more energy and vitality
- Exercise improves your sleep, making it more restorative for your brain
- Exercise improves your appetite, leading to more enjoyable eating and better health
- Exercise makes you mentally sharper and better at planning and decision making
- Exercise improves your mood
- Reduces anxiety
- Decreases stress
- Boosts self-esteem
- Exercise tends to bring you out into the world
All of these benefits are interlinked and create a domino effect where the improvement in one area improves another, and another… pushing you towards living a more healthy life.
Just as exercise strengthens your muscles, it also strengthens your brain. Exercise increases nerve growth factors, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which are like steroids for your brain. BDNF makes your brain stronger, so it’s more resistant to all kinds of problems. Numerous studies have demonstrated that exercise causes growth of new neurons — Alex Korb, author of the Ipward Spiral.
What we need to remember is that when we exercise, it needs to be a continuous process and a regular choice that we choose to make on a daily basis to help reap its rewards and benefits. And be patient, the mental and physical results won’t happen overnight but you’ll slowly start to see and appreciate the small benefits if you simply start.
What I’ve realized about myself through reading more information again about exercise, and even remembering what I had learnt whilst studying my sports science degree, is that the more I exercise the better everything in my life feels! That continued domino effect with just doing something physically active will improve all other areas of my life.
It’s not about perfect. It’s about effort. And when you bring that effort every single day, that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs.