Moving, moving, moving! As a society we’re always on the go… whether it’s going to work, making it on time to your dentist appointment, or simply trying to get some nutritious food into your belly. But, what about the type of moving we know we should include in our weekly routine?
I’m talking about exercise. It’s one of the four pillars of health.
Why is it so important to make exercise a regular habit? Exercise has been shown to benefit our:
- Physical health (body)
- Mental health (mind)
- Emotional/Spiritual health (spirit)
Now, you don’t necessarily need to run off to the nearest gym and pay an arm and a leg (unless that works for you!). There are endless ways you can incorporate movement and into your life. Exercise could include going for a run or walk around your neighbourhood, playing a sport, or going for a swim in a local pool.
Speaking of swimming, let’s dive further into the amazing benefits of exercise.
Body — Physical Health
Heart health – Our heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout our entire body! Just imagine all that blood flowing through you… head to toe. By exercising, you are forcing the heart to pump out more blood more quickly. All that extra pumping actually keeps our hearts healthier. Regular exercise reduces our chance of developing cardiovascular related diseases.
Weight loss – Are you looking to shed excess fat off your body? Exercise can help to shrink fat cells. When we get our bodies moving regularly, we not only burn off fat, but build muscle. Muscle uses more calories at rest, so this effectively increases overall metabolism.
Detoxification – We encounter toxins on a regular basis. In the 21st century toxins are unavoidable. Personal care products, pollution and chemically sprayed produce are a few ways toxins enter our systems. Over time, toxins can build up in our body and lead to health-related complications. During exercise, our body temperature increases causing us to sweat, which allows toxins to be released through your skin. In addition, exercise stimulates the colon as well, which eliminates all sorts of waste from our body via our stool.
Mind — Mental Health
Supports your brain – Without our brain, we wouldn’t be able to function at all. It tells our left leg to go forward, tells your heart to pump, and tells our digestive system how to digest. Specifically when we exercise, certain proteins in our brain that help with preserving existing brain cells and creating new neurons (brain cells) are increased. Do you have trouble with memory? Our hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory and learning, gets a huge boost when we develop more cells. Therefore, it assists us in recalling things better as well as having the ability to absorb new information. Both are important factors for preventing the risk of memory related diseases.
Reduces stress – “Bad” stress can wreak havoc on our mental health. Some symptoms of stress include impaired memory, difficulty concentrating, and lowered mood. Our stress hormone cortisol is released when we experience stressful situations. If there is too much cortisol in our systems, we are more at risk of burning out. Exercise reduces the amount of cortisol being released into our system. Have you noticed a bad mood turned upside down after exercising? That’s because exercise increases the productions of our feel good hormones such as dopamine and norepinephrine as well!
Spirit — Emotional/Spiritual Health
Keeps you connected – Have you ever worked out in a group setting? Try comparing how you’ve felt working out with others verses working out alone. For many of us, exercising in a group, gives us the opportunity to connect with others who enjoy the same activities. Who know, a new friendship might even blossom out of it.
You’re more “grounded” – Our emotions can get the best of us at times. Guilt, fear and self-doubt can leave us feeling distracted or less mindful. Positive thinking can turn into a negative downward spiral. Because exercise reduces stress and anxiety, and boosts our feel good hormones, thinking becomes more clear and negative thoughts begin to turn into positive ones. 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily is clinically proven more effective at treating depression than the leading pharmaceuticals.
It’s like a moving meditation – Repetitive exercises like walking, running, or biking allow our minds time to process life, all while our bodies are busy moving. While we’re moving, it is easy to focus on the present, and be mindful of how we’re feeling in the moment. Yoga is another great way to turn inwards while also meeting our need for movement.
So, tell us… is regular movement part of your lifestyle? If so, what’s your favourite activity?