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Are you emotional, stressed, or depressed? How would you feel if I tell you to go take a jog? Will that make you more emotional, stressed or depressed? I sure hope not, because the link between the lack of exercise and emotional problems is real. Maybe a single jog around the block can help a little, but adding a regular exercise program will give you the most beneficial results for your mind and body.
Doctors have always encouraged staying physically active. Well have you ever wondered why? Not only does exercise help your physical condition and fight disease, it is also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration. Exercise is vital for enhancing ones overall cognitive function as well. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate. So if you feel tired and make that excuse to not exercise, you could be hurting yourself more!
Stress can directly affect the brain, because the brain has many nerve connections. Those nerve connections make the rest of the body feel the impact as well. So it stands to reason that if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy, and even breathing deeply can cause your body to produce endorphins too. But a workout of low to moderate intensity makes you feel energized and healthy. I have long heard of a phrase called ‘runners high’, but until recent did not understand the medical or scientific connection. Personally, taking a run has always been a tremendous source of mind clearing peace. That jog or run has been triggering the release of endorphins, and Harvard researchers even claim that the effects of exercise last longer than anti-depressant medications too.
Scientific studies have shown that regular participation in aerobic exercise can decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects. So get ready to start the new year with a plan to improve your whole body, reduce stress, and implement a regular exercise program. No excuses! Even the American Psychological Association supports the idea! So go take that jog!