Exercise is a key component we incorporate before, during and after any weight loss procedure. Burning calories to maintain and lose weight is of course important – but the psychological and emotional benefits can sometimes rival or even “outweigh” the weight loss.
According to some studies, regular physical activity works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the effects can be long lasting. One vigorous work out session can help alleviate symptoms for hours, and a regular schedule may significantly reduce them over time.
Build New Brain Cells
Various studies have shown that cardiovascular activity can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance. Regular physical activity boosts the ability to learn new things, increases memory and heightens creativity by increasing levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) which encourage the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses in the brain.
Exercise also releases “feel good” chemicals called endorphins. These non-addictive endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins have also been proven to create positive feelings of pleasure and fulfillment. These chemicals produced only by the body can curb or mask the need for further negative related substances or actions to make one “feel good”.
For some, a moderate workout can be the equivalent of a sleeping pill, even for people with insomnia . Moving around five to six hours before bedtime raises the body’s core temperature. When the body temp drops back to normal a few hours later, it signals the body that it’s time to sleep. Sleep benefits are almost as prolific as the weight loss benefits.
Be More Productive
Research shows that workers who exercise on a regular basis are more productive than their more sedentary peers. When you exercise, you are increasing blood flow and oxygen distribution to your entire body – including the brain. This can help sharpen your mental awareness and increase your energy level – which means you are able to be more productive.
So next time you need an incentive to hit the gym, don’t forget that exercise is not just good for your physiological health, but for your mental health as well!