Psychological benefits of physical activity

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The psychological benefits of exercise are often overlooked. Today’s society greatly focuses on the physical benefits of exercise, such as weight loss, toned muscles and “six-pack abs. ” Although these are remarkable benefits, the psychological benefits can be just as, if not more significant than the physical benefits dependent on your needs and goals. Research has shown that regular exercise delivers a mental and emotional boost. It improves your mood, bolsters your self-esteem and gives you the confidence to handle whatever comes your way.

Some studies hint that it also enhances the functioning of your brain. Many theories about the psychological benefits of exercise have surfaced from exercise physiology and sports psychology. One common area of study is neurochemistry. Scientists believe that when exercising, chemicals called endorphins are produced in the brain and released into the body. The word endorphin is abbreviated from the phrase “endogenous morphine” which means morphine produced naturally by the body. Endorphins are thought to relieve stress and pain naturally, giving one an euphoric and invigorating feeling.

This is also known as “runner’s high. ” Just one workout can release another cache of natural antidepressant chemicals from your body’s medicine cabinet, such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Other theories focus more on the indirect effects of exercise. A popular opinion is that exercise may create a distraction and provide an “outlet” from everyday sources of stress, therefore positively enhancing one’s mental condition. Also, another thought is that muscle tension tends to be reduced after a good exercise session and this can promote a feeling of relaxation and calmness.

If your goal is Stress Management, there are a number of exercises I can work with you on to achieve this objective. •ENHANCED MOODS: EXERCISE MAKES MOST PEOPLE FEEL GOOD AND WHEN PEOPLE FEEL GOOD, THEIR moods seem to elevate. Whether this is due to the release of endorphins or providing a distraction from daily stress, many studies show that regular exercisers have a more positive outlook and are happier overall in comparison to the inactive population. •ALLEVIATE DEPRESSION: STUDIES SHOW THAT REGULAR EXERCISE CAN GREATLY ALLEVIATE AND IN SOME cases prevent the symptoms of depression.

The exact physiological reason is unknown, but scientists believe that enhancing body image, elevating moods and improving one’s health and physical appearance can all help boost self-confidence and create a feeling of success, therefore alleviating depression symptoms. •INCREASED MENTAL ALERTNESS: STRESS AND FATIGUE NEGATIVELY AFFECT CONCENTRATION, COMPREHENSION and memory.

Since exercise is a great way to alleviate stress and increase energy levels, a regular exercise routine will enhance mental alertness and can improve overall mental health. Like many leisure activities such as meditation or your favorite hobby, exercise gives your mind needed time out from everyday thoughts, worries and responsibilities. You return to your life refreshed, invigorated, and perhaps even mentally sharper. By improving the flow of blood and consequently of oxygen and nutrients to your brain, it may be that aerobic exercise helps you to think better.

Regular weight training and aerobic exercise have been shown in several studies to impart an additional benefit. They can improve the quality and duration of sleep. A good night’s rest can make you less fatigued and better able to function in your daily life. Reference: http://www. mhamenterprises. com/ptstress. html

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