I always find that winter is one of the hardest times of the year to maintain motivation to exercise and keep moving. When all I really want to do is to be snuggled up by the heater, or stay hidden under the doona all morning! 😴 I’m sure a lot of people out there can relate. Ironically, it’s also the time when we probably need it the most. Along with winter comes gloomy days. Our daily dose of sunshine is limited, and there can also be feelings of stagnation. Here are some health benefits I’ve added, to motivate you to get out your workout gear and keep moving! 🎽 👟
- Reduces anxiety. Ever noticed feeling better after an intense workout, or even a small walk? Exercise brings the focus back to our body, rather than being consumed by the anxious thoughts in our mind. Its what they call “movement meditation”. Exercise is also known to have an anxiolytic effect, it helps reduce mild anxiety and anxiety related symptoms (Herring, et al 2010). More health professionals are now focusing on placing exercise as part of treatment plans.
- Boosts your mood. It’s been known for a while now that exercise also has an antidepressant effect, as it increases the levels of serotonin in our brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter or chemical, involved in mood stabilisation and improves your mood. Serotonin levels can be increased by regular exercise too (Young, 2007).
- Decreases stress levels. When we feel stressed, our body releases the stress hormone called cortisol. High levels of cortisol weaken the immune system and cause blood pressure to rise, along with other damaging effects to our body. Regular low intensity exercises have been shown to decrease the amount of cortisol circulating in our body (Hill et al, 2008).
- Stabilises blood sugar levels. Exercise also stabilises the glucose levels in your body and improves insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of developing type 2 Diabetes (Leon, 2005).
- Positive body image. Exercise has also been known to improve your body image. With regular exercise you will tend to feel happier, healthier as your get closer to your health and fitness goals. Those who exercise generally experience an improved and more positive body image (Hausenblas & Fallon, 2006).
- Reduces the risk of heart disease. Regular exercise reduces your heart rate, blood pressure and the risk of developing heart disease (Leon, 2005). This in turn reduces the amount of oxygen needed by the heart to function, as less effort is required by the heart to pump blood.
- Eliminates toxins. When we exercise, we sweat. Sweat contains all that nasty stuff that your body wants to get rid off. It contains metabolic wastes such as urea, lactic acid, potassium and sodium chloride (Martini, 2016). Exercise aids in eliminating these toxins from your body.
- Releases endorphins. Exercise releases the ‘feel good’ chemicals in your brain called endorphins. Endorphins are known to help reduce the perception of pain, and also known to have a sedative effect (Alonso, 2015-2016). It’s no wonder that we feel so good after a workout! 💪🏼
Happy exercising! And remember to start gentle if it’s been a while. Love Sonia, xox.
Consult with your physician or health care provider before beginning any exercise program. This information is not a substitute for professional health or fitness advice. Please refer to full disclaimer.
Alonso Jr, J. C. (2015-2016) “Exercise: the Stress Reliever.” First Annual Big Bend Community College Student Writing Contest: 36.
Hausenblas, H. A., & Fallon, E. A. (2006). Exercise and body image: A meta-analysis. Psychology and Health, 21(1), 33-47.
Herring, M. P., O’Connor, P.J., Dishman, R. K. (2010). The Effect of Exercise Training on Anxiety Symptoms Among Patients: A Systematic Review. Arch Intern Med, 170, 321-331.
Hill, E. E., Zack, E., Battaglini, C., Viru, M., Viru, A., & Hackney, A. C. (2008). Exercise and circulating cortisol levels: the intensity threshold effect. Journal of endocrinological investigation, 31(7), 587-591.
Leon, A. S., Franklin, B. A., Costa, F., Balady, G. J., Berra, K. A., Stewart, K. J., & Lauer, M. S. (2005). Cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease an american heart association scientific statement from the council on clinical cardiology (subcommittee on exercise, cardiac rehabilitation, and prevention) and the council on nutrition, physical activity, and metabolism (subcommittee on physical activity), in collaboration with the american association of cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation. Circulation, 111(3), 369-376.
Martini, L. (2016). “Vitriols do guarantee an efficacious reduction of the human sweat when secreted from eccrine glands.” Our Dermatology Online/Nasza Dermatologia Online 7.1
Young, S. N. (2007). How to increase serotonin in the brain without drugs. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 32, 394-399.