Friday, July 09, 2010
Exercise: Good for the Body, Good for the Mind
It may come as a surprise to you that I don't love to exercise. Sometimes I actually hate it. But I do it anyway, because the rewards far outweigh whatever discomfort I feel during a workout. Regular exercise leads to better health, more energy, a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, and a longer life. But it isn't just the physical benefits of exercise that push me — it's what it does for my mental health.
The mental-health benefits start right after you exercise. Have you ever noticed how good you feel when you complete a workout? That you feel relaxed, or even euphoric? That mood lift, often called "runner's high," comes courtesy of natural morphine-like chemicals called endorphins. Exercise floods the brain with endorphins, which help to relieve pain, enhance your mood, and relieve stress.
But the feel-good effects don't stop after the endorphin rush subsides. Over time, exercise provides a major boost to your confidence. As you start working out and getting stronger, your sense of strength in other aspects of your life will naturally flourish as well. To put it another way, if you can survive my workouts, you can do anything — and when you feel that sense of empowerment, nothing will be able to stand between you and the life you want to live.