The word “wellness” has become popularized over the past few years, but what does it really mean? When we think of wellness, we are reminded of our well-being, including our mental, physical, and emotional health. In order to improve our well-being, we explore all of the moving parts in our life and examine how they are impacting our mental, physical, and emotional health. We take a look at our mental health and how our sanity is doing. We examine our emotional status, taking a look at all the relationships in our life and examine how they are impacting us. We take a look in the mirror and see if our body is living up to our standards. If it isn’t, we begin cleaning up our nutrition and creating a habit of exercising.
For as long as we can remember we have acknowledged and understood the importance of exercise in relation to our performance and body composition. It is one of the first two things - the other being nutrition - that we begin to change when we are seeking to improve the way our body looks and performs. But, perhaps there could there be more to exercise than running faster, building muscle, and losing fat.
Although the mental and cognitive benefits of exercise have been known for eons, they’re not as popularized as they should be. Exercise has the ability to improve your mental health in many ways, allowing your quality of life to improve in areas beyond your physical body.
Benefit #1 - Mental Clarity
Big or small, we all have problems in our life. Maybe there is a sticky situation with a family member that poses itself as a problem. Perhaps you’re in a financial pinch that you just can’t seem to get yourself out of. Maybe you have to deliver some bad news to someone and you have no clue how you’re going to do it.
Exercise does a great job of telling our body to produce hormones like endorphins. Don’t worry about those fancy words, just know that those are your “feel-good” hormones. Those “feel-good” hormones may give you the break and insight you needed to solve that issue. Maybe not directly, but you get the point. They’ll put you in a mood that may allow you to face that problem far better than before.
Benefit #2 - Improvement of Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety is on the rise like never before. With an abundance of all the things we could ever want and need in life, we are still finding ourselves more down and anxious than ever. What do we do about it? Well, many would suggest that taking medications could help treat depression and anxiety, but I’m going to put my money on the idea that those medications may not be best for us in the long run. Interestingly enough, exercise has been shown to significantly improve the symptoms of depression and anxiety. So much so that doctors are now “prescribing” exercise as a treatment. Although further studies are being conducted to find the direct correlation between depression, anxiety, and decreased symptoms due to exercise, we know that those same “feel-good” endorphins do a ton to completely shift your mood and mindset. Not only will those hormones do some quality work for you, but the simple act of escaping negativity in your life to take care of your body can improve your mental health by quite a bit.
Benefit #3 - Increased Cognitive Function
The Japanese are light-years ahead of us on this one. They have been practicing the incorporation of exercise into the everyday work life to enhance the productivity and cognitive function of their working force, and for good reason. Researchers have been looking into this for quite some time, and their findings continue to show that regular exercise can improve your ability to recall, memorize, and learn brand new things. Not only does your hippocampus (the portion of your brain involved in carrying those things out) improve all those functions, but boosts in productivity have been shown to be related to regular exercise, too! Next time you’re at work, give it a whirl. Go outside for a 10-minute walk and see if your productivity improves. You’ll be surprised at all you can do when you make exercise a regular activity.
Exercise regularly. Making a habit of this healthy decision will improve the way you think and feel about yourself and the world around you.
ABOUT THE AUTHORAdam is a fitness professional, baseball fan, and cookie fanatic based in Fort Collins, Colorado. After hanging up the cleats, he found a strong interest in the human body and how it performs. Since then, Adam has been transforming lives through fitness in a fun and encouraging atmosphere. As an ACE CPT and Fitness Nutrition Specialist, he is constantly moved to help people improve in all walks of life.