Working Towards A Better You

Daily exercise can improve your mind, body and mood.

lady-bikingOne of the most frequent questions I get asked as a doctor is ‘What is a simple way to improve my overall health?’ People are constantly searching for something they can do in their daily life that will make a lasting impact on their wellbeing.

One of the simplest ways to start working towards a healthier body and mind is daily exercise. Now, I know what you’re thinking―I don’t have time, I don’t have a gym, I’ve tried it and it’s not for me. However, short daily fitness routines, even as simple as stretching regularly and taking walks, can make a vast difference in your overall health.

Working Towards A Healthier Body

Obviously one of the biggest benefits of regular exercise is improved health and fitness. Not only does exercise help build and maintain things such as healthy bones, joints, and muscles, but it also reduces the risk of illness and disease for certain body types.

Daily physical activity is one of the most effective ways of decreasing the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. This is because many forms of exercise help to strengthen heart muscles, improve blood flow, increase your hearts working capacity, and lower blood pressure. Getting daily exercise also helps protect against the risk of stroke, diabetes, and colon cancer.

Also, when combined with proper nutrition, daily physical activity can help to control weight and prevent obesity, another leading risk factor for many diseases.

Working Towards A Healthier Mind

In addition to the improving the body, daily exercise can also keep the brain in proper form. Regular aerobic exercise, even as little as 30 minutes a day for three days a week, can have positive effects on brain functions.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Ohio State University, Rice University and the University of Illinois, showed that, over the course of a year, daily aerobic exercise in adults aged 55 to 80 increased the size of the hippocampus―the part of the brain that is related to navigation and essential to memory.

Exercising is also a great way to relieve your mind from stress and anxiety, renewing you both physically and mentally.

Working Towards A Healthier Mood

Regular physical activity can also improve the way you feel about yourself and your surroundings. Similar to the effects of anti-depressants, exercising releases neurotransmitters and endorphins into your brain. These are your body’s natural “feel good chemicals” that help to improve your mood and reduce stress and anxiety.

Even a quick 15-minute physical activity can help snap you out of a bad day funk. The effects of a good work out can last hours after you’ve stopped exercising, providing you with lasting energy throughout the day.

Also, recent studies have shown that exercising outdoors in the presence of nature can lead to both positive short and long-term health benefits. So if you needed yet another excuse to escape outside on a beautiful day, simply walking or riding your bike outdoors can help to increase your mood and your self-esteem.

[Sources: Physical Activity Increases Memory, 2010 ― Green Exercise Improves Mental Health, 2011]

Posted in: Health, Nutrition, Self Care, Self Esteem

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