Exercise may be touted as the cure for all the ills the modern age brings, but it can still be troublesome to get up and get moving. The Mumbai Mix Team tells you how you can use exercise to perk yourself up
You’ve been told a million times about the benefits of exercise — to the point where you’re probably fed up of all the unsolicited advice. However, a combination of working long hours (where we are seated for most of the day), eating unhealthy foods and recovering from a chaotic day by lazing around, isn’t doing us any good. It’s a vicious circle — this routine affects your ability to fight against the very lifestyle that causes a dip in your morale and mood. Here, we tell you how even a small amount of exercise can go a long way in keeping your mind and body fresh and rejuvenated.
THE ILL EFFECTS OF SITTING ALL DAY
We’re all aware of how sedentary lifestyles gradually deteriorate our health. But, what are these factors that eventually add up, contributing (usually without us even realising it) to our lack of good health?
- Weight gain Sitting all day leads to weight gain — plain and simple! When you spend too much time eating, you’re consuming empty calories, which will lead to issues such as obesity in the long run.
- Sitting is linked with diseases Sitting for prolonged hours can cause high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of diabetes. Apart from that, some cancers have also been linked with too much sitting or lying down.
- Mood influencer According to the Association for Psychological Science, people who sit for over six hours a day at work are more prone to anxiety and depression. Sitting for extended periods can actually seep into the psychological realm and affect your mood.
- Poor blood circulation Muscles burn less fat and blood tends to flow more sluggishly when you are sitting. So, sitting for long periods can restrict blood circulation in your legs and even induce lower back pain. Problems that arise from this situation can range from swollen ankles and varicose veins to blood clots that require treatment such as deep vein thrombosis.
This seems rather obvious, doesn’t it? Exercising and working out boosts your physical health, right? It’s true that exercise does wonders for your health — your physical health that is. But, you may not know how regular exercise can benefit you. Read on to find out about some of the most important benefits of exercising.
- Helps manage your weight This is the most important aspect of exercising for most people. Exercising is essential not only to shed the few extra pounds you’ve been carrying, but also to maintain your weight. Even if you can’t manage an extensive workout session, simple physical activities such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking a little extra by taking a longer route, can work wonders when it comes to reducing and maintaining your weight.
- Reduces your risk of heart attack If you’re worried about heart problems, remember that regular exercise can help prevent blood pressure issues. In fact, regular physical activity can not only prevent cardiovascular diseases, it also helps manage a wide array of health related issues, which range from strokes, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes to certain types of cancer and arthritis.
- Gives you stronger bones Strong bones are always associated with being in the pink of health. And, exercise not only helps you to achieve stronger bones, it also reduces your risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Weight bearing exercises such as walking, jogging and dancing help you to build stronger bones. Think about this for an idea of the opposite — astronauts who spend a long time in space, where there is less gravity and in which they are practically weightless, suffer from bone degeneration, unless they exercise rigorously.
- Boosts your energy It may sound counter-intuitive, but regular exercise boosts your strength and endurance, leaving you more capable of performing tasks that would otherwise leave you winded, such as climbing the stairs and jumping into a bus.
- Helps keep cholesterol levels in check While researchers aren’t entirely sure how exercise lowers cholesterol, the link is pretty clear. One possible way is that it reduces your body fat, which plays a role in determining your cholesterol levels. Another way this might happen is that exercise leads to the release of enzymes in your blood stream, which may have a contributing effect.
- Boosts intimacy If you’re always too tired for physical intimacy at the end of the day, exercise can put the spark back in your relationship. That’s just another reason to get regular exercise.
You may have seen people sweating and groaning on big, complicated equipment. But, don’t think that in order to reap the benefits of exercising, you too have to do the same. Even a few minutes of brisk walking a day can do wonders! Be comfortable with what you do, talk to experts for advice and leave the rest to your body and brain!
No room for worry
When you have something to do, you are less anxious and worried about the little things. Since you will have to focus on exercising, you will think less about everything else. It’s a good way to keep yourself free from stress. And, get this. Exercise can also induce an increased capacity to deal with stress!
Anti-depressant feel-good effect
While you are at it, your brain releases certain chemicals that help you feel better about yourself. These chemicals include endorphins and endocannabinoids — compounds that activate certain receptors in your brain, making you feel good.
In fact, they are so good that they can even help those who are suffering from depression and anxiety. Regular exercise can even help to prevent a relapse into depression, which is why so many doctors suggest using exercise to beat the blues.
Beat fluctuations in emotion
Research that was published in Cognition and Emotion shows that acute aerobic exercise can benefit people who have difficulty regulating their emotion. The study found that a short period of moderate exercise changed people’s emotional effects to an upsetting film clip.
While the mechanism isn’t well understood, exercise helps to boost your self-confidence. Staying fit gives your self-esteem the shot in the arm that it needs and improves positive self-worth. And, the effect has been shown to hold, regardless of age, gender or weight.
Halt cognitive decline
You may have heard that doing new things keeps your brain young and stops your mental functions from declining. And with exercise, every run, every day, every bit of your workout is always new — even if it’s the same old routine, although switching it up every once in a while will keep it even fresher.
Let your creativity flow
Research has shown that a heart-pounding exercise session can boost creativity for up to two hours afterwards. So, the next time you need a creative burst, reach for your gym shorts and running sneakers!
How it boosts brain power
- Increases oxygen to the brain
- Makes you more productive
- Helps clear your mind
- Enhances your creativity
- Busts stress, boosting memory
Beat cancer with activity
A study published in Cell Metabolism by researchers at the University of Copenhagen reported that regular exercise decreased the growth of multiple types of tumors. Also, exercising regularly is associated with a smaller chance of developing cancer in the first place. This study was done on mice, so there is a little more work to be done before its results can be applied to humans, but why wait for medical science to tell you what you already know — exercise is good for you.
Exercise kicks butt
In the recent past, sitting all day has drawn a lot of criticism. There have been attempts to change our sedentary working life, with contraptions such as desks that force you to work standing up. But, the great news is that you may be able to reverse all the ill effects of sitting with exercise, according to researchers from the University of Leicester. That means that even if you have a sedentary job which has your at a desk all day, you can counter any negative impact on your health with exercise.
“This research is significant because it demonstrates yet again why physical activity and exercise is so important,” said Kishan Bakrania, one of the researchers working on the study. “It shows that people who spend large amounts of time not moving either through work, leisure or lifestyle can counteract some of the negative effects of sedentary behavior by regularly exercising.”
However, this shouldn’t give you an excuse for your sedentary lifestyle. Be proactive in exercising to stay healthy.