5 brilliant reasons to exercise
27th September is National Fitness Day, so we’re celebrating with 5 reasons to make fitness part of your day to day life. Regular runs or yoga classes make you look and feel fit and strong, yes, but don’t forget that the benefits of exercise extend inside, too. ‘Exercise changes our bodies, but the real magic happens in our minds,’ says Sarah Hilton, coach at the London Olympic Weightlifting Academy. What are you waiting for?
1. It makes us feel happy
Let’s start with the basics. Exercise makes us feel better because it releases feel-good chemicals, known as endorphins, which help reduce pain and stress, modulate appetite and create a sense of euphoria.
2. It keeps our brains sharp
According to research published in the Journal Of Comprehensive Physiology, regular exercise improves cognitive function, slows down the mental ageing process and helps us process information quicker.
3. It helps beat the blues
In a recent study, people who exercised frequently reported significantly fewer feelings of depression, anger, stress and distrust than those who exercised less.
4. It knocks out sleepless nights
The American National Sleep Foundation reported that vigorous exercisers were twice as likely to get a good night’s rest than non-exercisers. Nothing makes us feel better than a good, uninterrupted night’s kip, right?
5. It’s an antidote to stress
A US animal study found exercise re-organises the brain so the response to stress is reduced, and anxiety is less likely to interfere with normal brain function. Group exercise is also effective at helping us switch off, as it lifts us out of our brain-chatter and into the present. As anybody who’s ever done a Zumba class knows, it’s easier to let go of worries when you’re trying to keep up with a grinning instructor and fast new moves!
Boost the benefits
- Take five minutes before every workout to think about what you want to achieve or visualise yourself feeling fantastic afterwards. If things get tough, bring that image or intention to mind to help stay positive.
- Keep a training log. Tracking your progress is a brilliant way to maintain motivation. Look back on it from time to time, notice how far you’ve come, and watch your self-esteem soar!