If you do your yearly doctor visit, (which you should), your provider probably asks if you exercise and how much. Whether or not you have a few pounds to lose, you should spend time at least a few times a week exercising. Exercise is probably the best natural medicine on earth.
Yes, exercise is an important method for weight-control, but it’s also essential to keeping your body healthy and free of sickness. Every system in your body—from your immunity to your bones—is benefitted by regular exercise.
Other surprising benefits of getting in your daily sweat session are stress-control and sleep. Exercise has an invaluable effect on your brain, helping it to feel energized and calm at the right times.
Boosts Your Mood
You’ve undoubtedly heard about endorphins, or the chemicals that run around in your brain and make you happy. Well, studies have shown that a good bout of exercise can increase the amount of endorphins in your brain. It’s no wonder you always feel better after you work out.
Exercise also boosts levels of serotonin, which can help regulate your mood. In fact, doctors often prescribe a daily exercise regimen to help ease chronic depression and anxiety.
Exercise is also great because it gives your brain a focused activity, allowing it a break from the normal stress of everyday life. Once you’re done, not only do you feel accomplished from achieving said task, your rested brain will be more ready to take on more complex tasks.
Reduces Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is a hormone that gets released when you’re stressed. It’s what’s responsible for that “flight or fight” response. Although cortisol has a bad reputation, it’s a necessary hormone for many functions of your body. However, if you have elevated cortisol levels for too long, it can have deleterious effects on your body.
Elevated cortisol levels can cause a bunch of problems, including acne, weight gain, high blood pressure, and sleeplessness. Exercise, however, can help keep your cortisol levels steady.
Makes You Tired
A regular exercise regimen can help you keep your sleep/wake cycle (circadian rhythm) on track. If you can go to sleep about the same time each night, you’ll find you sleep much better. Training during the day can make your body more relaxed and ready to sleep by the time night comes.
Because exercise burns calories and causes stress (the good kind) on your body, it’ll need to rest. A tired body goes to sleep more easily.
Be smart about when you exercise, though. It can take a few hours for your body to “come down” from exercise, so try not to work out too late at night, especially if you have to get up early in the morning.
For More Benefits, Exercise Outside!
Fresh air and daylight are incredibly beneficial for your brain and your body. Both have calming effects on the brain, and exposing yourself to daylight can actually help you produce more melatonin—the sleepy hormone—when it gets dark.
Exposing your skin to sunlight will also help your body produce vitamin D, an important part of maintaining healthy bones and teeth, as well as immunity and brain function.
So, if you’re going for a run, ditch the treadmill and head outside!