The couch might be comfortable, but it doesn’t do anything to improve your health. However, exercise does. In fact, your physical activities — or lack thereof — play a more important role in your self-care routine than you might think. From your sleep quality and energy levels to your relationships and mental health, read on to discover how exercise affects every aspect of your life.
Exercise and Sleep
Sleep is arguably the most important thing you can do for your physical and mental health. Unfortunately, in today’s fast-paced world, sleep is often the first thing stricken from our to-do lists.
Valley Sleep Center asserts that exercise not only helps you fall asleep, but it can also enhance the quality of sleep you receive. Further, a heart-pounding cardio workout is a great way to reduce stress and feelings of anxiety. Sleep is important for muscle growth and recovery after workouts.
If the fact that exercise helps you fall asleep isn’t enough, consider the effects of sleep itself. When you don’t sleep enough, your body’s hormones get thrown out of whack. This results in a flood of the hormone ghrelin, which is responsible for sending signals of hunger to the brain.
Lack of sleep also suppresses the release of leptin, the appetite suppression hormone. This is why sleep deprivation can make you feel hungry. People who don’t get enough sleep also tend to overeat to compensate for their tiredness.
Exercise and Relationships
More than just giving you a good night’s sleep, exercise offers benefits that trickle into your social life. Madeline Romeo, a contributor for Active.com, explains that exercise makes you feel better about yourself, which attracts positive people and helps you position yourself as a role model. And if you’re in a relationship, the benefits can even lead to a better sex life.
Exercising with your dog is also a great way to bond with your canine companion. Not only does Fido make a great running buddy, but spending time with your dog — specifically time outdoors at the dog park or on a brisk walk around the block — can help stave off anxiety and depression. When you have a healthy relationship with your pet, you’ll exercise more, as well as experience the joys of unconditional love.
Exercise and Mental Health
Exercise is a vital component of human functioning. More than simply helping you achieve a healthy body, working out has a profound effect on your mental health. A research study by Edmund O. Acevedo published by Oxford Handbooks claims that physical activity is necessary for cognitive function and an overall more fulfilling life.
It doesn’t take a hardcore gym routine in order to reap the benefits of exercise. Starting with something as simple as a 10- to 15-minute jog or long walk every day is enough to provide noticeable results.
Exercise and Everything Else
More than just sleep, physical health, and mental well-being, your physical fitness trickles over into everything you do. Exercise helps with weight loss, boosts energy levels, and offers protective benefits against chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Regular exercise increases the body’s store of antioxidants, which can keep the skin healthy and clear. And since exercise increases pain tolerance, it can also ease the mental fatigue experienced by those with chronic pain, including fibromyalgia.
Finally, working out – whether at the gym or at home – just 30 minutes five times per week can change your relationship with food. It is also theorized that changes in your brain triggered by exercise make you crave a healthier diet.
It’s easy to think of exercise as a chore, but it’s not. It’s a vital part of your self-care routine and one that should not be overlooked. The effects of exercise overlap into all aspects of your life. In short, focus on fitness and you won’t fail yourself.
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Brad Krause left the corporate world to help promote the simple notion of self-care through his writing and consulting. Find out more at his website: http://selfcaring.info/