I know you already know that exercise is good for your body – and you may be thinking, not more nagging on this topic……..

 …….. but whichever way you look at it, if you do some exercise and even a little bit of activity is better than nothing, it does make us feel more positive.  It improves memory, helps us to sleep better, and enables us to deal with depression, anxiety, stress, and more.

More energy  By increasing your heart rate several times a week, you will have more get-up-and-go. Start off with just a few minutes of exercise per day, and increase your workout as you feel more energized.

Better sleep Even short amounts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help to regulate your sleep patterns.

Sharper memory and thinking The endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally on the ball. Exercise stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent aging and memory loss.

Higher self-esteem Regular activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. As it  becomes a habit, it can nurture your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful. You’ll feel better about your appearance and will have a sense of achievement.

Stronger resilience  Regular exercise can help you to boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress as well as helping you to build resilience and cope naturally with mental or emotional challenges in life.

What about starting out on exercise or getting over the ‘can’t be bothered ……?   Here are a few tips to help …..

Even if you don’t have time for 15 or 30 minutes of exercise, start small with 5 or 10 minute sessions and then slowly increase your time. The more you exercise, the more energy you’ll have.  Better to set achievable goals and build up from there.  And exercise can simply be moving in and around your home – cleaning the house, washing the car, gardening, sweeping the patio, running up and down the steps!

Make sure that you schedule your exercise when your energy is highest.  Maybe first thing, or lunch-time before the mid-afternoon slump hits or weekends when you have more time. 

Make sure your exercise is about activities you will enjoy. Anything that gets you moving counts.  It could be walking with a friend, cycling to work, more gardening, taking the dog out.  And try to choose a setting that you find calming or energizing which could be your own garden, a park or a scenic path

It always helps your motivation to promise yourself a reward or treat for exercising.  Could be a lovely, long hot relaxing bubble bath, reading a book or anything that helps you to relax.

Exercising with a friend, your partner or even your kids, will help to motivate you as well as making it more fun.

Exercise is so important for our mental wellbeing and here are some of the reasons it can help with stress, anxiety, depression, ADHD and PTSD and trauma:

Exercise & stress

When we/’re feeling stressed, we suffer from lots of symptoms; tense muscles especially in our neck and shoulders, neck and back pain or headaches. You might suffer from muscle cramps or tightness in your chest or have problems with insomnia, heartburn, stomach problems and diarrhoea. And the worry and discomfort of all these can then lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.  Exercising is a great way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body and when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.

Exercise & anxiety

Exercise relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. Anything that gets you moving can help, but you’ll get a bigger benefit if you give the exercise you full attention.  Exercise  is a natural and effective treatment for anxiety.  Try to add in a mindfulness element by noticing the  scenery and nature if you are outdoors or the feeling of the wind on your skin.  By doing this, as well as improving your physical condition, you should also be able to interrupt the flow of constant worries running through your head.

Exercise & depression

Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication but without the side-effects.  A recent study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%.  Exercise is a powerful depression fighter.  It promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins and exercise can also serve as a distraction allowing you to find some time out which will help to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression.

Exercise & ADHD

Exercising regularly is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce the symptoms of ADHD by improving concentration, motivation, memory, and mood. Physical activity immediately boosts the brain’s dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin levels—all of which affect focus and attention. In this way, exercise works in much the same way as ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.

Exercise & PTSD & Trauma

Heart with solid fillEvidence suggests that by really focusing on your body and not allowing your mind to wander as you exercise, you can actually help your nervous system become “unstuck” and begin to move out of the immobilization stress response that characterizes PTSD or trauma.  It’s important to pay close attention to the physical sensations in your joints and muscles, even your insides as your body moves. Exercises that involve cross movement and engage both arms and legs such as walking, running, swimming, weight training, or dancing are some of your best choices.  Outdoor activities like hiking, sailing, mountain biking, rock climbing, white-water rafting, and skiing (downhill and cross-country) have also been shown to reduce the symptoms of PTSD.

endorphins are a natural chemical released in the brain to reduce pain and in large amounts can help you to feel relaxed or full of energy

dopamine is known as the feel-good neurotransmitter. The brain releases it when we eat food that we crave or while we have sex, contributing to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction as part of the reward system. This important neurochemical boosts mood, motivation, and attention, and helps regulate movement, learning, and emotional responses.

Noradrenalin is a neurotransmitter in both the peripheral and central nervous systems. It produces many effects in the body, the most notable being those associated with the ‘fight or flight’ response to perceived danger. 

Serotonin impacts every part of your body, from your emotions to your motor skills. Serotonin is considered a natural mood stabilizer. It’s the chemical that helps with sleeping, eating, and digesting. Serotonin in the brain is thought to regulate anxiety, happiness, and mood. Low levels of the chemical have been associated with depression, and increased serotonin levels brought on by medication are thought to decrease arousal.

Now watch this great video by FACTS and THINGS on The Benefits of Exercise – Bing video