By: Jackson Lohr, Sports Performance Manager & Jonathan Durrette, Sports Performance Staff.
As you have probably heard before, exercise has a multitude of benefits. However, some of the benefits might not immediately meet the eye. Since sticking to an exercise program can have profound effects on your life, it is important to prioritize and take care of your personal health. Mental health, confidence, lasting energy, quality of life, and longevity of life are a few aspects that can be affected in a positive manner by exercise.
To start things off, we will talk about what working out can do for your mental health. Exercise has been shown to decrease feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression through the increased activation of neurotransmitters like endorphins. Endorphins, more specifically, dopamine, is a brain chemical released during exercise that provides us with an energized feeling.
As research suggests, completing 20-40 minutes of exercise in a day can greatly improve mental health and the associated feelings of stress and anxiety. Additionally, it can benefit your mood for several hours post-exercise. If you are ever feeling low on energy, motivation, or stressed out, get outside and go for a 20 minute walk before sitting back down to finish any work. You will be surprised what it can do for you and your subsequent mental state.
In comparison, confidence is greatly improved with the addition of exercise in your daily life. With exercise, not only will you gain a sense of accomplishment, you will also begin to look and feel better as a result. This confidence can crossover into other aspects of your life. Because many people feel insecure and anxious about their body’s capabilities, when we begin to make progress in this arena, the confidence boost is infectious. With a heightened sense of confidence, the belief in yourself and your abilities will increase exponentially, which is advantageous in work, relationships, and other aspects of life.
Regular exercise is an important factor when translating to daily activities. For example, while walking around campus or taking care of your family, we do not want to become fatigued while doing relatively low intensity movement. Exercising can combat these effects by delivering necessary nutrients to muscular tissue. These nutrients help improve cardiovascular well-being, in other words, exercise increases heart and lung health. These two components relate immensely to the ability to complete daily activities with relative ease.
Quality of Life
Outside of performance, exercise can carry over to benefit multiple areas of life. For one, the ability to complete daily activities becomes easier with increased strength, endurance, and flexibility. Training our muscles to withstand forces we face throughout the day helps to improve physical function. The simple truth, if we feel good, we will do good. Feelings of tightness and soreness can lead to unproductive, frustrating days that can put us down a negative path if left unaddressed. However, lifting weights can stimulate growth in our muscles that reverses these effects.
Longevity of Life
In addition to quality of life, exercise can actually increase our lifespan. Completing the recommended guidelines for exercise can delay the onset of an abundance of chronic diseases and illnesses. Research states that cardiorespiratory fitness is a major indicator of cardiovascular disease, morbidity, and mortality. Furthermore, individuals who participate in regular fitness routines can decrease their risk of disease and mortality substantially when compared to individuals who do not meet the guidelines. It is better to start exercising sooner rather than later, but it is never too late to improve your health. Take it one step at a time, be patient, and the benefits will come your way.