Outrun the holiday slump: The mental health benefits of physical exercise
It’s that period between Christmas and New Year, and time has ceased to have meaning. You don’t know what day it is; you’ve been eating the same leftovers for what feels like ten meals; the concept of waking up before 8 AM seems like a distant fable, and everything feels a little…off.
We totally get it because we’re there too. After consuming so much food, spending so much money, and seeing so many people on so many late nights, it’s no wonder that you’re probably feeling a little mentally exhausted and perhaps even a little sad. There’s still a fair span of break time left though, so it’s imperative that you get the spring back in your step to make the most of the last days of December. Trojan Health and Fitness has a solution for you… it’s exercise!
You don’t need to start powerlifting like an Olympian or cycling like a man in sponsored spandex all at once, though. Even a little bit of exercise dramatically benefits your mental health. Moving your body will make you look and feel great, enabling the second wind you’ve been trying to find at the end of a turkey and mashed potato sandwich. This is how:
Helps ease depression & anxiety
Physical activity raises your endorphin levels, which is your brain’s “feel good” chemical. This chemical is produced in the spinal cord and can induce feelings of joy and euphoria in large quantities. This release is scientifically proven to reduce the risk of depression and anxiety and can effectively treat them if experienced consistently. Doctors even recommend trying out a moderate exercise routine before turning to medication in the treatment of mental illness, so you know it works.
You increase your heart rate when you exercise, stimulating the production of neurohormones like norepinephrine. These hormones work to reverse stress-induced brain damage, improving our cognition and mood and even clarifying thoughts that stressful situations have clouded. An added benefit is that exercising forces your body’s central and sympathetic nervous systems to work together, enhancing your ability to deal with stress when it occurs. Sometimes, the best solution to your problems might be to run away from them in a 5km loop.
Increases self-esteem & self-confidence
When you’re losing weight, building up muscle, feeling more capable and robust and maxing out your endurance, it can be hard NOT to feel good about yourself. The sense of triumph and progress you get from meeting exercise goals can improve your overall self-esteem, as it always feels like a personal “win.” Regular exercise can leave you feeling more powerful – and, let’s face it, way sexier – in every aspect of your everyday life, from trying on clothing to climbing up the stairs in your office block.
There is absolutely no sound in the world more abhorrent than a chirpy little alarm tone going off after a night in bed spent tossing, turning, and struggling to settle in. Because of that sound, we’ve come close to throwing our smartphones out of windows. If you exercise before bed, though, the probability of that happening is much smaller. Doing exercise before turning in increases body temperature, which can have calming effects on the mind, leading to less agonising midnight clock-watching and an express ticket to dreamland. Our circadian rhythm is the body’s built-in alarm clock that controls when we feel tired and when we feel alert, and exercising can help regulate that too. The world looks much brighter after a good night’s sleep!
Boosts your brain
Exercising doesn’t only build that body of yours. It boosts your brain, too. You get to be the WHOLE package. Cardio is proven to encourage the process of creating new brain cells – a process called neurogenesis – which markedly improves brain functioning. It also strengthens the hippocampus, which is the part of your brain that controls memory and learning, effectively slowing down cognitive decline and mental ageing. Studies have shown that even light to moderate physical activity propels creativity and mental energy. Maybe the inspiration you’ve been looking for this holiday is hidden in the secrets of the squat rack?
So… how do I go about it?
You can start right now! Simply by strapping on a pair of shoes and going for a walk around your block, you’re beginning to feel all these positive effects on your mind. When you’re ready to level up from soft strolls, though, you can turn to Trojan Health and Fitness. We have a wide range of exercise equipment, from small resistance bands to complete home gym setups. Our wide range caters to audiences from exercise rookies all the way to powerlifting pros, so we’ve got the product you’re looking for as you sweat your way to smiling!
Shop Trojan Health and Fitness exercise equipment today.