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The physical benefits of exercise are well known. Regular exercise will help your physical health in many ways but it also offers many mental benefits. Often these can be overlooked as the focus of exercise is predominantly about how we look rather than how we feel. The following are just a few non physical benefits regular exercise provides us:
Exercise is always a challenge. It can at times be physically painful and difficult to push yourself to keep going. Completing anything challenge in life helps us to become more confident about ourselves. If you achieve your first pull up when you never thought you could, it gives you a huge sense of achievement and the knowledge that you are capable of great things. Training yourself in this way long term helps develop your confidence not just for exercise but for everyday life.
Reduction of anxiety often comes along with an increase in confidence. More confidence in daily life means we are less likely to feel anxious about different situations. Exercise relaxes us and can help to prevent day to day concerns, especially during the exercise session. The best exercise for reducing anxiety is exercise that is fun such as playing our favourite sport or going on a long hike.
Over the centuries human stress in developed countries has changed from mostly physical burdens to mental burdens. This stress is much harder to see but effects the body negatively in much the same way as physical stress does. Regular exercise helps reduce the effects that mental stress has on us. It helps us to handle daily life a lot better and gives us an outlet for mental frustrations we can experience day to day. Just ensure that you are taking a week off every so often to ensure that exercise itself does not become a stressful part of your life.
Exercise makes us feel happy, both short term and long term. The ‘runners high’ is a well-known phenomenon that people get after running intensely or running for a long period of time. The same type of effect can be gained from any form of exercise. Whether this is a physiological result of exercise or simply the result of having achieved something challenging, exercise makes us feel good.
Regular exercise helps us to increase our productivity. The time spent on exercise should be seen as an investment rather than a cost. Much research has shown that we think more clearly after some exercise. Going for a walk on your lunch break at work can be one of the best ways to lift your productivity in the afternoon!
Physical fitness has many benefits and they extend further than just having a healthier body. The mental benefits that are gained through regular physical movement are in many ways even more important than the physical results. These benefits transfer over into your everyday life so while it may seem that running your first 10k or lifting your first 100kg squat is just a physical achievement, the added benefit is that you have strengthened your mental resilience as well.
How do you feel after exercise?
If you have any questions on fitness and health please let me know, I will answer in my video Q and A or in a blog post depending on the detail of the topic