As far as our body is concerned, 21st century life can be surprisingly static, and it requires a determined effort to change habits that have become deeply ingrained. In our technologically advanced and automated world, we spend more and more our days performing sedentary office tasks. And that’s not all, because with modern household appliances, cleaning is much less painful than it was.
Thus, although our days are fast paced, our lives do not often involve physical challenges; to move quickly, we depend on cars, and after a stressful and mentally tiring day, we mostly choose to relax in front of the television.
It’s hard to break this vicious cycle. You gain weight, you exercise less and you gain more weight and so on. This model is clearly harmful. One study estimated that almost one in five medical deaths over 35 years of age can be attributed in part to a lack of exercise.
The answer to changing your life is to opt for physical activities that are good for your health. Go dancing, sign up for a yoga class, hit a soccer ball with your kids, take the stairs instead of the elevator or just take a stroll in the countryside on a beautiful summer evening. It’s up to you to choose the physical activities that you can incorporate into your daily routine, and every little bit counts.
3 Benefits to the Mind of Regularly Exercising
Exercise strengthens the muscles, but can also help you forge a stronger, healthier mind. Just six months of regular exercise can improve your mind. Here’s how.
Ask non-athletes why they do not get up to get moving; you will be entitled to many similar stories.
They do not have the time. They are not physically fit. They have too much aches and pains. And the most telling thing is that it’s just too late.
Here are some improvements to your health that you will see in less than six months if you start exercising regularly.
1. Improved Self-Esteem
We talk a lot about self-esteem in children, but what about ours? Self-esteem or, in other words, simply how you feel, can play a major role in your overall health and quality of life.
If you feel good about yourself, you will certainly lead a healthier life, stay active, maintain social relationships and participate in group activities. All of this works, in a way, in a circular way to preserve your health.
We now know that exercise helps to maintain or even improve self-esteem in older adults.
One study measured changes in self-esteem among a group of overweight women aged 60 to 75 who participated in either a muscle building and stretching program or a brisk walking program during six months.
Both programs boosted their self-esteem even though the stretching and muscle building group showed greater improvement.
All women, however, felt better about their body image and strength.
2. Better Stress Management
There is a reason why we advise people to walk when they need to “release the pressure”.
All this pressure or stress triggers a cascade of chemical reactions meant to prepare you for running.
Your heart beats faster and stronger; your lungs absorb more oxygen; your liver releases glucose to provide energy to the muscles and your immune system goes into “injury preparation” mode. If you sit, however, all this physiological energy has nowhere to go.
Given the kind of chronic stress that most of us experience, this “ready to take off but no real destination” type of permanent response degrades the main systems of the body over time.
The immune system is eliminated; bone loss, muscle weakness and atherosclerosis increase, insulin levels progress (you need more insulin for glucose to go into the cells), leading to higher levels of abdominal fat is dangerous.
3. Reducing the Effects of Depression
The researchers took 156 people between the ages of 50 and 77 who had been diagnosed with major depression and randomly divided them into three groups: an exercise group (30 minutes of cycling, walking, or running three times per day), a Drugs (Prescription) group, and a group that combines both.
After 16 weeks, all three groups showed similar improvements in depression, but only the Exercise group also improved cognitive abilities.
In addition, when investigators completed verifications of participants six months after the end of the study, they found much lower relapse rates in the Exercise group than in the Drugs group.
Exercise To Improve Memory and Cognition
We all know that exercise is essential for staying in shape, but it can also help stimulate our brain. The tips that follow will show you how exercise can help improve memory and cognition functions.
1. A Chemical Reaction
When you exercise, whether it’s walking in a forest or weightlifting in a gym, you do more than just strengthen your muscles. You also stimulate many areas of your brain and central nervous system, each of which controls a tiny part of the movement.
In addition, you stimulate the release of a variety of chemicals, including human growth hormone (HGH). Yes, it is the same hormone that is given to children who do not grow up; the same as some “anti-aging” doctors prescribe to their patients, even though it is generally illegal to use it for this reason.
Among its benefits for promoting youth, HCH triggers a hormonal and biochemical cascade that releases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a hormone that helps the brain to germinate new synapses or connections between neurons.
2. Obesity and Depression
We are far from our genetic tendency to be physically active for nearly 100% of the day. This has led to a loss of BDNF and the neurotransmitters it affects, including serotonin, contributing to our current high rate of obesity, forgetfulness, dementia, and depression.
A brisk 45-minute walk, three days a week, for six months, can make a huge difference in the kind of mental acuity that allows you to be more in tune with the world around you.
It can even reduce the effects of traumatic brain injury if you start two weeks after a severe concussion.
So, it’s important to take an exercise program for three months and see what benefits in terms of memory, learning and decision making you get!