What’s the importance of working out during trying times?
Looking for the reasons why exercise is important?
Life is a journey full of different terrains, and some are more difficult to navigate than others. The current landscape of our world regarding the pandemic is an example of one of the most challenging ones we have ever experienced.
When times get tough, it is vital to find a way to cope and stay sane so that the situation doesn’t overtake us. For many people, that outlet is exercise.
There are countless benefits of exercise both when times are good and bad. They range from small to large, physical to mental, and short-term to long-term. The benefits can be different for everyone, but anyone can find something positive as a result of physical activity.
The 10 Benefits of Exercise
There is seemingly unlimited research that supports the benefits of exercise for dealing with difficult situations. Working out can have a significant impact on the physical parts of our body but it has an equivalent effect on our minds.
It could take years to go through all of the reasons why physical activity is beneficial, so I’m going to give you some of the highlights. Here is my list of 10 benefits of exercise to help you uncover the importance of working out for yourself.
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#1. Exercise Helps Reduce Financial Stress
This may seem like a foreign concept to some people. After all, some parts of exercising, like clothing or gym memberships, can cost a fair amount of money. If you look at the bigger picture, however, there is plenty of savings to be found.
Exercise reduces the risk for a wide variety of different medical conditions. If you can use exercise to reduce the number of routine visits to the doctor or the amount of regularly purchased medication to help deal with a certain health problem, you are saving money.
In the same way, physical activity can save you money on your insurance. Whether you’re looking into term life insurance quotes or no medical exam life insurance quotes, having fewer health conditions and medications will help your application and potentially reduce your premium.
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#2. Exercise Can Help You Live Longer
Stress is kryptonite to the human body. It weakens our immune system, increases our blood pressure, and causes us to lose sleep, just to name a few things. Each of the items I’ve just mentioned has a significant impact on our overall health, which factors into how long we live.
Although managing the problems associated with stress is a short-term issue, the resolution of these problems is a long-term benefit of exercise. Lower stress levels help you live longer, and exercise is a method that can help lower your stress.
#3. Exercise Helps You Think More Clearly
People often say they need a good workout to clear their heads. They feel that giving their mind something else to focus on, or their body something to feel other than stress, will help them come back with better mental clarity. This thought may seem basic, but there is scientific evidence to back it up.
For starters, exercise increases blood flow throughout our entire body, including our brains. More blood leads to better function, and this gives us a better ability to process our thoughts. This is a great mental health tip for college students but also one of the top benefits of exercise for students at any level.
Additionally, a part of our brain called the hippocampus is highly active during exercise. The hippocampus is a vital part of learning and memory, so its increased activity during exercise can prove beneficial in de-cluttering our brains.
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#4. Exercise Improves Your Mood
When we engage in physical activity, our bodies release endorphins. These natural chemicals reduce the perception of pain in our bodies while providing a boost to the pleasure centers of our brains. Endorphins have a similar effect to opioids but without the harmful effects.
This is the reason that people often feel better after a workout. Endorphins, also known as “feel-good” chemicals, have been released into the brain and the exerciser is left with a more positive feeling and outlook on life.
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#5. Exercise Helps Your Social Life
Amid this pandemic, you may have just read that heading and thought, “We aren’t supposed to have a social life right now.” While physically distancing yourself from others is certainly important for the health of our world, it doesn’t mean that all communication has to stop.
Whether you attend a gym or not, exercise can be part of your social life. There are many online groups made up of people with similar exercise goals or interests. Social media gives you the ability to interact with others, even in a virtual format.
If you’d rather interact with people you know, bring your friends and family into the mix to form a group of your own. Sharing goals, giving advice, and making communication part of your routine are just a few social benefits of exercise.
#6. Exercise Helps You Sleep Better
There is no better period for recovery than when we are sleeping. When we don’t have to expend energy on other things, we can use more energy to heal our bodies. This is why resting is recommended after an injury, during an illness, or after a workout.
Exercise forces our bodies to use energy to complete our workout. This usage leaves us at a deficit, and we need to allow our bodies time to replenish our energy supply. Our bodies want to heal and restore energy supplies, and they know that sleep is the best time to do this, which is why we sleep better after exercise.
#7. Exercise Gives You More Energy
Making it a goal to increase your energy by exercising may seem counterintuitive. I mean, exercise is hard, right? It takes a lot of energy to complete a workout. This is true, and you certainly may feel tired immediately after a workout, but the long-term effects are different.
We feel tired right after a workout because our body is trying to repair itself and return to its normal state, or homeostasis. When this is done quickly and efficiently, however, our energy is replenished and we’re ready to tackle the next part of our day.
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When our bodies are healthy, they function more efficiently. In this state, our bodies are more effective at using energy to complete our daily activities. Put simply, if we are using less energy to get through the normal parts of our day, we have more energy to spare.
#8. Exercise Helps Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety
Much like how exercise improves your mood, it also helps reduce the symptoms of depression through the release of endorphins in the brain. Not only that, but exercise also promotes changes in your brain that can lead to an overall feeling of calm and well-being.
Similarly, exercise helps treat the symptoms of anxiety by giving the brain something different to focus on. Exercise movements should be mindful. You can focus on proper breathing, form, or anything else you notice about the activity.
By focusing on these certain parts of the exercise, your brain is distracted from the thoughts that were causing you to be anxious. Endorphins are also helpful when combatting anxiety because they promote mental clarity and feelings of positivity.
#9. Exercise Helps Control Your Weight
As a fitness professional, I’ve talked to more than a few people who have gained some pandemic pounds during the chaos. This is tied equally to less frequent movement and more care-free eating habits.
Weight gain or weight loss comes down to the number of calories you intake versus the number of calories you burn. If you use fewer calories for physical activity, you need to eat fewer calories to maintain your weight. In the same way, consuming more calories means you need to burn more calories.
Fighting a sedentary lifestyle by engaging in exercise will help you manage your weight because it offsets some of the extra calories you might be consuming. Diet and physical activity are both important and should be given equal attention, but make sure you are moving during this time when daily activities might be less frequent.
#10. Exercise Improves Your Immune System
Physical activity does more than just keep your mind, muscles, and joints healthy. It turns out that exercise is great for your immune system for a variety of reasons.
One of these reasons was mentioned earlier when discussing stress. When our bodies are stressed, our immune systems weaken. Exercise is one of the best ways to deal with stress, so it would be fair to say that it also keeps our immune system strong.
Additionally, exercise increases circulation throughout our bodies, which allows cells and nutrients to be carried around more easily. Healthy cells and nutrients are big contributors to our immune systems, so this is important.
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One final benefit that is worth mentioning concerning the effect of exercise on the immune system is that exercise helps flush bacteria out of our lungs. With harder and more frequent breathing, bacteria are expelled from our lungs. This can reduce the chances of getting sick.
The Mind and Body Connection
There is an undeniable relationship between the health of our bodies and the health of our minds. Each of these affects the other, so it’s important to focus on them both rather than emphasizing one and hoping the other will be good to go.
Exercise is a great tool for both mental and physical health because you can feel results in both areas from the same workout. Engaging in physical activity promotes the release of healthy chemicals in our brains while simultaneously strengthening our muscles, bones, and joints.
When our mental health is strong, it is easier to find the motivation to work out. In the same way, our minds get stronger as we work out more frequently. The two go hand in hand and result in mutual success.
When we face challenging seasons of life, such as the pandemic that has rocked our world, our mental health tends to take a hit. We might lose our motivation, feel helpless in a situation, or start to face various levels of depression.
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As challenging as it might be, these are the times when we need to force ourselves to start our first workout. Once that initial sweat session is in the books, you will feel a little bit better and gain slightly more motivation for your next workout.
The cycle will continue to build as time goes on until your workouts become your outlet. Your mind will become strong in tandem with your body, and you’ll be better equipped to deal with the challenges that life throws your way.
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Printable Habit Tracker Templates
Ready to start exercising and enjoy the benefits of physical activities? Sign up below to get the FREE Printable Habit Trackers, with pages for 30 and 31 days. Use it to motivate you to work out every day.
Getting started doesn’t have to be difficult or take up a lot of time either!
Whatever you decide, one thing is clear, the benefits of exercise are life-changing!
What are the 10 benefits of exercise? Click here to learn the importance of working out and the top ten reasons your body and mind need physical activity. #FitnessGoals #FitnessJourney #WeightLoss #GetFitClick To Tweet
What’s the importance of exercise for you?
More About Guest Contributor
Dan Chojnacki is a certified personal trainer who writes and researches for the life insurance site, QuickQuote.com. He currently works in Green Bay, WI. His favorite forms of exercise include cycling, running, swimming, and playing tennis.
Last Updated on January 9, 2021