6 Health Benefits of Exercising


I recently came across a ted talk by Wendy Suzuki, a Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the New York University Center for Neural Science and popular science communicator. On this ted talk titled ‘The brain-changing benefits of exercise’, she discusses the science of how exercise can improve your mood and memory while protecting your brain from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The truth is, no one really thinks of this kind of inspiration or reason when working out. For most people, working out is more for ‘less serious’ reasons. Most people will exercise either because:

·         They want to lose weight

·         They want to look good

·         They have heath issues – In this case because the doctor said so.

 All the above are great and important. However, there are other overlooked benefits of exercising.  Better still, wouldn’t it be better to know that whenever you fix in that quick workout session, there are more health benefits to reap? Yes? Here was my takeaway from this Ted talk.


Some Overlooked Benefits of Exercise

1.      Mood and Focus

2.      Stress Management

3.      Increased endorphins

4.      Shift of Focus and Attention

5.      Reduction of health problems

6.      Discipline


Exercising will improve your mood & Focus. The greater news is this is an almost immediate result. When we work out, there is an increased level of neurotransmitters. Feel good hormones such as adrenaline when released into the body are likely to place you at a great mood.

Working-out also has been found to help in stress management and therefore reducing depression. When one exercises, there is obviously an increase in the pumping of blood. Consequently, more oxygen is pumped to the brain releasing a plethora of hormones that prepare you for mental stress for the rest of the day. Ultimately, with managed levels of stress you can then avoid diseases such as Ulcers.

Here is another way you could look at it. When one gets physically active, there is an increased release of endorphins. Endorphins are structurally like morphine the drug which is considered one of the greatest painkillers. ‘Endorphins activate opioid receptors in the brain that help minimize discomfort, says J. Kip Matthews, Ph. D, a sport and exercise psychologist. Naturally therefore in layman’s terms, ever heard of the ‘Runner’s high’? That ecstasy you feel after a run – Endorphins are responsible for that. Our brain naturally produces these neurotransmitters (ex. Endorphins) in response to pain or extreme exertion to take the edge off and cause us to feel great.

Another benefit of exercise is increased ability to shift and focus attention. In a world of distractions, the difference between achieving success or failure can sometimes simply be defined by our ability to focus or stay distracted. Exercise also instill discipline. Discipline to do what you set out to do and stay consistent. Healthy choice decisions such as diet and overcoming addictions require a deep level of self discipline. Exercising therefore exercises the discipline muscle therefore improving an all-round discipline in all we do.

Finally, exercising has been accredited to reduce health problems such as obesity, heart disease and hypertension. Did you know, lack of exercise is one of the risk factors for developing heart disease? Just like family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity; a lack of exercise or inactivity will potentially affect your heart negatively. In essence, exercise has a positive ripple effect. For instance, it reduces the risk of obesity which in turn reduces chances of heart disease. Cardiovascular exercise improves circulation, which helps reduce the risk of artery clots or blockages. It reduces the risk of diabetes, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

Should you need more inspiration to exercise, remember that exercise has benefits far beyond health and mental performance. Self-acceptance, discipline, independence, being truly present- you learn all those kinds of things repeatedly through physical challenges. If you really want to be successful- in life and in health; those lessons are tough to pass up.

So next time you’re on the treadmill or exercise regime, and are tempted to quit, think of all those benefits above and find your motivation to keep it up to the end.


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