Pounding the pavement on a regular basis isn’t just for your health or to lose weight; but there are more benefits your body and mind could attain post a sweat session. There’s been a ton of research done that proves exercise to have mental benefits that boost brain function; so here are 8 surprising things you didn’t know squats and lunges could do to your body (and brain).
- Alleviate anxiety: When the brain is getting all anxious, we’re more likely to pour ourselves a hot bath, than go for a jog, right? Wrong. The army of chemicals produced by the brain and body during and post exercise can help you deal with anxiety more than a scented bath.
- Reduce Stress: Working out can increase the body’s capacity of dealing with mental tension and overall stress. Research has proven that exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. Go ahead, and get moving!
- Improve self confidence: On a very superficial level, notice how you feel more confident and at-ease with your body when you’re regularly working out? That’s exactly how exercise can improve your confidence and make you feel much positive about your body image, regardless of you reaching your goal weight or not. It’s all in the mind, people.
- Curbs addition: When your body performs an activity, be it exercise, sex, alcohol, drugs or food, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine as a ‘reward’ which is responsible for making you happy and carefree. This feeling of being in the state of having dopamine running in your veins is addictive, and a lot of people start to depend on artificial and sometimes, harmful, substances like drugs and alcohol to produce it and keep that feeling ongoing. However, if you continue to perform short sessions of exercise, the body will keep producing dopamine without you having to rely on food, sex, drugs or alcohol to get your fix.
- Sharpen memory: A recent study on mice suggested that when they were made to perform a physical activity for 30 minutes a day, they produced new brain cells and were more responsive for hours following the lab test. This is a no brainer, pun unintended, that when you’re sweating it out on a regular basis, the brain gets a serious boost, resulting in you making decisions faster and much more efficiently.
- Improve productivity: When I start to feel uninspired on a terrible Monday morning, I tie my shoe laces and go for a run with my dog – not only do I come back feeling happier, but I get more done than I would have if I were to force myself to work. Whenever you feel uninspired, pencil in a workout, as research is proof that people who workout on a regular basis are much more productive and responsive at a workplace than sedentary workers.
- Be more creative: A heart-pumping gym session can tap into your creative juices for two hours post a workout session, says research. If you’re tired of your cubicle job and need a boost of creativity, I say take your laptop out in the nature and work from there onwards.
- Boost endorphins: For years, doctors have recommended people who are mentally and clinically depressed to clock at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, because of the fact that exercise produces a chemical called endorphins which causes to make us feel euphoric and happy. Next time you’re feeling a little blue, step outside and go for a low-intensity walk in a park or on the beach and watch your frown turn upside down.
What’s your secret reason to clock some hours at the gym, apart from toning up or losing weight?