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22 Reasons To Exercise

Reasons To Exercise Most of us know that exercise is key in maintaining a healthy brain, body and soul. Unfortunately, most of us don’t actually act on that knowledge and schedule it into our daily routine. If you’ve forgotten the benefits of exercise, then these 22 reasons to exercise should inspire you once again.

So why do most of us not exercise enough?Well, we live very busy  lives – we don’t have enough time to exercise! We’re far too busy to look after the number one most important thing in life – our health. You may have sensed an element of sarcasm here, but isn’t it so true? We’re constantly making excuses about why we don’t have time to exercise and wonder why we get ill regularly, or suffer from stress and anxiety, struggle with focus and productivity, why we’re not fulfilled, why we’re not doing what we want to be doing, or why we get fat and can’t walk up a gentle hill without huffing and puffing. That list is by no means exhaustive. Have you ever noticed how radiant people are who exercise? How healthy they look, their skin, their eyes, and how much energy they appear to have?

Our bodies were designed to move – they weren’t designed to sit in chairs all day long. I actually recently heard that the chair was the worst invention ever for our backs. Most of us live a box lifestyle. We wake up in a box, get in our box and drive to work, sit at a box all day long staring at a box, then drive home in a box, eat a meal from a box, whist sitting in front of a box before returning to our box to sleep.

The fact is, that most people are simply not aware of the sheer importance of exercise for us to remain healthy. If everyone knew how important exercise was, then everyone would schedule it into their days in order to get the most out of their lives.

The purpose of this post is not to scare you. The purpose of this post is to just attempt to present to you, in as concise a manner as possible, a number of benefits of exercise for our mind, body and soul that have been scientifically proven. Here’s a quote from peak performance quote, Tony Robbins: (I’m sorry, I quoted him last week too – I should be his personal ambassador)

 “Change your physiology to you change your state”

Would it be fair to say that the decisions we make and actions we take are determined by our psychology – our state – in any given moment? I’m no psychologist, but when I first heard Tony Robbins say this, it immediately rang true.  The interesting part is that our state is affected by our physiology – the way we move our body. By moving our body physically, getting our heart rate up, changing our breathing, and also changing our voice and facial expressions, we change our state immediately. Our physiology affects our psychology. Our minds and bodies are aligned when we’re moving.

Our bodies need to be energised for our minds to be able to think clearly, optimistically and creatively. By simply moving our bodies, we align ourselves. Try it, next time you’re tired and demotivated, feeling down maybe, get up and dance around. Do twenty star jumps, put your favourite music on, dance around and witness what happens to your state. Then get back to work, or whatever you were doing, and note how you feel.

Exercise is essential for our mind, body and soul in a number of ways. Here are 22 reasons to schedule exercise into your daily routine:

1.    It feeds the brain with oxygen from your blood
2.    Induces creativity, ideas & insight
3.    It balances and aligns your body
4.    Increases attention, concentration and focus
5.    No.1 stress reliever and anxiety curer
6.    Gets you feeling positive, happier and optimistic
7.    It teaches you to relax
8.    Helps you sleep well
9.    Motivates you
10.  Boosts your physical and emotional energy levels – Tony Schwatz (author of Power of Full Engagement) said exercise is the no.1 activity for emotional renewal
11.  Makes you smarter
12.  Fends against aging/memory – when you age, your memory actually shrinks – exercising slows this down significantly
13.  Reduces the risk of stroke
14.  Reduces risk of heart problems
15.  Essential for your immune System
16.  Strengthens your muscles, joints and ligaments
17.  Strengthens your blood vessels and veins
18.  Strengthens your heart and lungs
19.  It reverses the negative effects of alcohol!
20. It boosts your sex drive and sexual appeal (ehem)
21.  Exercise of course makes us fitter! It builds and tones your muscles, strengthens blood vessels, boosts pulmonary (lung) and heart performance so you can live a more fulfilled life.
22.  Not exercising is a depressant! Many neurodegenerative (brain decline) disorders, such as Alzeimers and Parkinsons have been linked with lack of exercise. Other organs fail because of a lack of exercise.

Now I won’t support each and every one of these claims here as you’d be here all day. I have actually written a book about exercise called The Truth About Exercise, which supports each and every one of these claims. More importantly, when you’ve read it, you won’t want to not exercise again. You’ll figure out a way of enjoying it! This could be by taking up a sport or dance class for example so you don’t consider it a chore or laborious.

Endorphins Are Not DolphinesLet’s start by looking at just what happens in our brains when we exercise. You may have heard about endorphins (which have nothing to do with dolphins by the way), but do you know how we get this natural high?

Here’s what the Franklyn Institute has to say about exercise:

Your brain is a thinking organ that learns and grows by interacting with the world through perception and action. Mental stimulation improves brain function and actually protects against cognitive decline, as does physical exercise.

The human brain is able to continually adapt and rewire itself. Even in old age, it can grow new neurons. Severe mental decline is usually caused by disease, whereas most age-related losses in memory or motor skills simply result from inactivity and a lack of mental exercise and stimulation. In other words, use it or lose it.

When you start to exercise, your brain recognises this as a moment of stress. Your heart pressure increases and your brain suspects you are either about to fight the enemy or flee from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) is released. Not only does this BDNF protect but it also repairs your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. This is why we often feel so at ease and things are clear after exercising and essentially happy.

Simultaneously, another chemical, endorphins, is released in your brain. Their main purpose is to minimize the discomfort of the exercise, to block the feeling of pain and they are often associated with a feeling of euphoria – who needs drugs?

Our brain is much more active when we’re moving around and exercising:

Brain pic

Strangely enough, the BDNF and endorphins have addictive properties, much like morphine or nicotine, only with exercise, it’s good for us!

Not only that, but according to a study based at Dartmouth College, the protein BDNF is believed to help with learning, memory and mental acuity.

Michael Hopkins, lead researcher, and his team evaluated four different exercise regimes on a group of sedentary, but youthful, young men. Each of them were given memory tests and mental health surveys in order to determine their psychological states.  The different groups of exercise schedules included exercising for four weeks with a test on the final day, exercising for four weeks but no exercise on the test day, exercising for just one day followed by a test, and the last one was completely inactive with a test.

The research produces clear results, as you may be able to predict, that the group that exercised daily, and on the day of the test benefited a boost in BDNF. The other groups did not at all. Exercise here is described as moderate-paced walking, rather than rigorous cardiovascular training sessions.

Dr Hopkins said: “For mental health benefits, what really counts is exercising on a regular basis — not the intensity. You don’t have to wipe yourself out. The basic goal is to get up and move your whole body more than half of the days of the week.”

It used to be believed that our brains stopped growing once we reached adulthood – as if it were a static organ where change and adaptation were not possible. You’re probably aware that this could not be any farther from the truth. As we go through our lives, our brain changes and adapts and remains flexible much like a muscle. Our brain’s ability to be flexible is called neuroplasticity and this plays an important part in shaping our distinct personalities.

The growth of new brain cells and nerves – neurogenesis – happens when the brain blood volume increases. Blood volume increases during moderate exercise. The area responsible for memory and learning is called the hippocampus and it’s this area that is mostly affected by increased blood volume.  When you get older this part actually starts to shrink, which is why older people tend to have a poor memory. When you exercise regularly, this can slow down the rate at which your hippocampus shrinks considerably so you can preserve your memory.

So there’s snippet of how exercise fuels the brain. If you’d like to learn about all the other effects of exercise on the brain, then you can take a look in the exercise category. Or if you’d like to see it all in one place, then I’d highly recommend a read of The Truth About Exercise – as I wrote it! I’d love to hear your feedback as always.

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