The first things that come to mind when you think about working out and going to the gym are toned muscles, weight loss, and improved athletic performance. But staying physically active on a regular basis comes with more rewards than what you can see.
Countless scientific studies proved that regular exercise also has a powerful positive impact on one’s mental health. After all, most of us feel better after a hard workout session at the gym. You feel lighter, your head is clearer and the mood is more upbeat.
So, if you’re struggling to find the motivation to start working out, you may need a different approach. In today’s article, we’ll talk about how working out can help develop your mindset, improve sleep, be more efficient and productive, and have an overall more joyful life.
How Physical Exercise Boosts Your Mental Health
Regular physical exercise has a wide range of benefits, from improved mood and well-being to sleeping better and feeling less stressed. Here’s how:
When you push through a spin class or power lift, your body releases endorphins, also known as nature’s painkillers. They’re called this because they bind to receptors that minimize discomfort and produce a state of euphoria that makes you feel powerful and confident.
Furthermore, regular exercise promotes the release of dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are associated with pleasure and happiness and work together with the aforementioned endorphins to elevate your mood.
This is why you end up feeling more optimistic and satisfied post-exercise than when you first laced up.
Exercise also serves as a powerful countermeasure against the pressures of daily life. It does so through several mechanisms, such as focusing on the rhythm of your breath for accentuated mindfulness or putting you into a form of meditation through its repetitive nature. Plus, the structured nature of regular gym sessions provides a reassuring routine in an otherwise unpredictable life.
Daily stresses and the pressure of being social can negatively impact the way you sleep. Luckily, you can (usually) solve this problem with a few bedroom adjustments and regular exercise.
Regular physical activity makes your muscles feel tired but lightens the load on your mind. As a result, you get to experience deeper restorative stages of sleep, such as deep REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, where the body truly recuperates and processes emotions.
Additionally, there are plenty of studies that show good quality sleep has a profound positive impact on your mental health.
How to Make It Work for You
We know life is busy and unpredictable, so a regular fitness routine may not work for everyone. Still, there are a few things you can do to make sure you stay active even during the toughest times.
Here are a few tips:
Choose a Gym That’s Convenient for You
You don’t have to go to a fancy gym to do your daily exercise. All the gyms have basic equipment like treadmills or weights, so it’s best to find a gym close to your location that’s open when you need it to be. A platform like anytimefitness.com can help you find just the right fit for your needs.
Timing is Key
Especially when it comes to improving your sleep routine, the time of the day when you work out is important. Consider exercising earlier in the day or at least giving yourself a few hours before bedtime post-workout. An intense gym session too close to bedtime might leave you too energized to fall asleep right away.
Timing is also important when you’re on a tight schedule (like handling work, kids, and house chores). If this is the case, take a step back and assess your daily routine for hidden pockets of time. Early mornings might sound daunting, but they offer undisturbed tranquility for gym sessions. Plus, starting your day with exercise means you’ve ticked off that box before other responsibilities clamor for attention.
If early risings aren’t your cup of tea, how about lunchtime workouts? A quick midday gym break could recharge you better than caffeine ever could. Alternatively, the post-work period can be ideal. It’s a fantastic way to decompress and transition from professional obligations to personal time.
Lean on Technology
Fitness apps let you track your exercise throughout the week, even if all you’ve got time for is micro-sessions that fit neatly between calendar appointments (maybe at your desk or in a vacant meeting room).
Remember – consistency trumps duration. In this case, several short bursts of activity throughout the week can amount to substantial exercise volume.
Nowadays, it’s rather easy to sideline physical activity. We’ve all got movies to watch, games to play, and social media to scroll. But if you want to stay healthy in both the mind and the body, exercise is the best and cheapest way. The good news is that you don’t need hour-long sessions to reap the rewards – you just need to maintain an active lifestyle.
Staying active isn’t just another task on your to-do list – it’s an investment in your health, energy, and peace of mind.