The pressures we put on ourselves day to day, whether they be emotional, physical, financial and/or psychological, can lead us to feel tired, time deprived, stretched, depressed and sometimes, leads to illness.
As we start the New Year with good intentions, it is my hope that I can encourage you to remember these 7 INVISIBLE BENEFITS and reasons to exercise, especially on those days when you really don't feel like it.
The invisible benefits of working out
Exercise is something we tend to do for changes in our physical appearance, whether it’s to sculpt our abs, get firmer buttocks or reduce the flab. But when we exercise, the benefits go deeper than just the surface. While our fitness levels increase, there are many invisible changes also happening to our bodies. These benefit us in many ways, giving (in my opinion) even more importance to exercise than before.
1. Increase in self-confidence
When you are happy with your physical appearance you are more likely to feel better emotionally, boosting your confidence and positivity, making you feel happier overall. Believe in yourself.
2. Mental health
Exercise reduces anxiety and depression, releasing endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and other chemicals with a calming effect on the body and mind, making you feel happier.
3. Better social skills
When your self-esteem increases, you can become more likely to want to surround yourself with other people, specifically those who make you happy and support your fitness journey too. If you attend a gym, or do classes, you will already be meeting new people and socialising more.
4. A clearer mind
The endorphins released during and after exercise can also boost your concentration, giving you a clearer mind and thinking process. Your brain will also benefit by gaining new brain cells and a boost in performance and overall memory.
5. Better sleep
Exercise helps get you into a deeper sleep for longer, and reduces the amount of stress and anxiety possibly stopping you from sleeping. Just avoid exercise too close to bedtime, as you may feel too energized to fall asleep.
6. A longer life
We can slow down the aging process by keeping our bodies in tune, and also our brain function sharp. When we exercise, our brain releases chemicals that help support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, the part of our brain that helps learning and memory.
7. Improved Health and Immune System function
Exercise has been called "the best preventive drug" for many common ailments, from psychiatric disorders to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body.
The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads. This includes (but is certainly not limited to) seasonal colds and influenza.
According to a survey by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, exercising vigorously for at least 2.5 hours each week can reduce your chances of catching the flu. The survey suggested that 100 cases of flu per 1,000 people could be prevented each year this way.
Other studies have also shown that regular exercise will help prevent the common cold. In one such study, women who exercised regularly were found to have half the risk of colds of those who didn't work out.
And the ability of moderate exercise to ward off colds seemed to grow the longer it was used. The enhanced immunity was strongest in the final quarter of the year-long exercise program, suggesting that it is important to stick with exercise long term to get the full effects.
It is all too common that I hear women in particular, saying that they would like to do more exercise but they don't have the time, and they feel selfish or self indulgent, if they take time out of their family routine in to exercise. I hope that by reading this you might re-evaluate your perspective on exercise and ask yourself whether you can afford NOT to find the time to build it in to your routine.