Active people stand to gain mental clarity and health in addition to physical plusses
“You should really exercise, it’s good for you.” We come across this phrase time and time again. It’s safe to say that it has become ingrained, we do indeed know that exercise is good for us. That being said, the why or how you can weigh the benefits is sometimes ambiguous. Here are some of the real benefits that come with leading an active lifestyle:
- Improved mood
Physical activity really does put you in a better mood. How? When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins interact with the receptors in the brain that reduce our perception of pain, and thus leave you with a state of euphoria. This is where the term “runners high” originates.
To take it a step further, physical activity has been proven to prevent depression. JAMA Psychiatry has found that as little as 15 minutes of higher-intensity exercise a day can protect people from depression. From a less scientific lens, meeting our exercise goals, even small ones, can boost self-confidence and equip you with a sense of accomplishment.
- Enhanced brain function
Our brains require a constant supply of oxygen to operate and direct blood flow in the body. When you workout, your heart rate increases and pumps more oxygen into the brain. The better oxygenated our brain is, the better it functions.
Exercise also physically changes your brain for the better. Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that regular aerobic exercise (defined as where your heart is pumping and you are sweating) increases the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls verbal memory and learning.
- A better night’s sleep
If you find yourself counting sheep before bed to no avail, regular physical activity can help you sleep faster and better. Experts have determined that as little 10 minutes of exercise a day can promote better sleep quality. (Check out five ways you can improve your sleep here).
At its simplest, the science behind how physical activity effects sleep is twofold: energy expenditure and body temperature. The energy you expend working out stimulates the restorative process during sleep. Secondly, when we work out our body temperature increases. Researchers believe that this helps it drop during sleep, which in turn improves sleep quality.
- A reduction in susceptibility to many medical conditions
Health may be most mentioned benefit of physical activity. We can all reap the benefits of exercise whether you currently suffer from a medical condition or have a family history in one. According to Mayo Clinic, regular exercise can help protect people from any number of medical conditions: strokes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, type two diabetes, depression, anxiety, many types of cancer, and arthritis. Researches found that regardless of weight, being active boosts good cholesterol and lowers the bad LDL cholesterol.
The simplest form of exercise can alleviate and improve some of the struggles we currently face, and also acts as a preventative measure for issues that we may encounter in future. Invest in yourself your health, and happiness. Let’s get active for a better quality of life!
Healthy Living is a frequently updated content section brought to you by the Saudi Sports for All Federation. In the spirit of supporting our #HealthyActiveCommunity, we’re sharing tips around wellness, physical activity and more!