The Benefits of Exercise
The Benefits of Exercise are well documented and range from reducing risk of disease, fighting obesity, improving mental health, and also the obvious physical improvements.
If you think about your body, you strengthen your muscles to keep them strong and healthy.
Exercising the heart muscle through regular exercise is exactly the same! For those people who
experience hypertension or high blood pressure, physical activity can prevent or delay those
conditions. Being fit and healthy also can greatly reduce the risk of developing coronary heart
disease, Type II diabetes and also assist people suffering from arthritis. Whilst it may be painful
for arthritis sufferers, the movement of the joints actually assists in keeping those joints mobile.
Weight bearing physical activity or weight training can assist in the reduction of the risk of
experiencing osteoarthritis later in life.
It also reduces the risk of premature death. Both older and younger adults who have a higher level of regular physical activity experience lower mortality rates. Even people who are only moderately active have shown lower mortality rates than those people who are not active at all. For those people who are physically active the rates of cardiovascular disease are reduced.
Finally and rather obviously physical activity reduces the risks and complications associated with obesity.
The Benefits of Exercise in improving Mental Health
Exercise is a great way to improve your mood and frame of mind. Exercise releases feel good chemicals into the body. These chemicals are called endorphins and more specifically
adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals are released into the body when you
exercise and have been found to decrease stress hormones and improve your mood and reduce
the effects of tiredness. These hormone-like substances are produced in the brain and can
produce a sense of euphoria, a general state of well-being or even act as a natural painkiller.
People who are physically active can recover from depression more quickly than those who are
not physically active.
Your mood will be improved even if you only exercise for a short period of time, however to get all the benefits from exercise you should do at least 30 minutes of exercise per session.
Over my journey in the Corporate and Martial Arts world I was introduced to a person that
shared a very personal and moving story behind their reason for dedicating the time they do to
exercise. They were at the height of their career, and running a very successful business that
they had built and developed, and was on the verge of being recognised for their achievements.
For everything that was going right in their personal and business life a couple of business issues
arose which caused them great deal of stress, anguish and pain, which in turn triggered depression.
This person had never been diagnosed with depression previous to this and had been the type of person that didn’t believe in depression and thought it was all nonsense, and that it was
something that you talked yourself into. Coinciding with this event they had recently become a
parent and they weren’t as healthy as what they should have been.
The person was diagnosed and subsequently placed on anti-depression medication. Whilst the medication worked it also zapped them of everything that they were. Spiritually, emotionally and mentally they were dead. The person was unable to connect either internally or externally with anything. They knew that something was not right and knew that they had to get off the anti-depressants, and therefore sought a second opinion. The second doctor spoke to them about the endorphin kick that people get out of exercise having a similar impact and effect that antidepressants can have on people. They stopped taking the tablets immediately. To wean themselves off the tablets they went and sat on an island with no outside distractions for two weeks and they gave up the tablets cold turkey. When they returned from the island the person began exercising immediately. The first day they ran to the nearby train station and back, a distance of around 1 kilometre and it began from there.
Sure enough, over a relatively short period of time the person was feeling a lot better to an extent where the high that they were getting from the endorphin kick from going for a run became addictive. So addictive that they were chasing it, and they had to run further and train harder to keep going after that “runner’s high” as they call it.
The fear of going back to that darkness, that negative depressed place, is probably the greatest
single motivator to get this person out of bed every morning.
They didn’t need drugs. They didn’t need tablets. They didn’t need medication. They just needed
to eat well, stop drinking alcohol, stop eating shit, and start doing some physical activity and that cured the person's depression – and the person greatly believes that it could help solve a majority of the issues out there that relate to depression.
There are many very successful, high achieving individuals that battle and deal with stress and demons on a daily basis. On the outside they appear motivated, driven, happy and successful but they are dealing with inordinate amounts of stress from either external factors or internal
demons. Exercise for many of these people is the only way they can be the successful people
that they are. Physical and mental health are so intrinsically linked that when they are both
aligned the person can achieve so much more in their life . I believe that I wouldn’t be where I am
today without the dedication that I have to my fitness and exercise regime.