For many, this year has been difficult to focus on fitness and health due to internal and external variables that have either made it difficult, cumbersome or seemingly impossible to exercise like they normally would. Although it may feel like there is not much you can do, let’s discuss how to make changes from a “relaxed 2020 routine” to one that keeps you active can help improve your mental and physical wellbeing.
Before diving into the direct benefits of moving, let’s discuss what physically happens in your body when you become active.
When it comes to intentional exercise, the first part of the process is mental. Your thought processes and willpower motivate you to exercise and your brain activates specific muscles that will be called upon to do the deliberate movements. BestLife Online explains as the muscles begin to fire, they require specific components from your blood system to fully activate and function as expected. As the activity’s speed, intensity or duration increases, your body reacts appropriately by releasing additional chemicals, raising your heart rate and increasing respiration depth and frequency. The more your body works, the more heat is created as a biproduct. Your body manages this heat by sweating to regulate your core temperature and to protect your organs. As your body exhausts its stored components needed to operate properly under the exercise’s stress load, you may experience cramps, muscle fatigue or even shortness of breath. Once your exercise is complete, your body begins its recovery and rebuilding process on a muscular level.
Now that we have outlined what happens in the body when we exercise, let’s discuss the five benefits you can get from keeping your body moving:
Keeping your body moving and continuously adding more distance, speed or intensity to your fitness routine helps increase your cardiorespiratory endurance – the amount of work your body can endure over a duration of time through the efficient utilization of oxygen. MedicalNewsToday further discusses why this factor is important, and also talks about maximum oxygen intake (VO2 MAX) which is the greatest amount of oxygen your body is capable of using during high-intensity workouts – a great topic for serious athletes.
Some exercises that are great for working on this factor include:
- Power Walking
- Jump Roping
By keeping your body active, your bones receive benefits as well - typically through higher/healthier bone mineral density levels. Bone mineral density (BMD) is a large factor in bone strength. Low BMD levels can signify osteoporosis. The International Osteoporosis Foundation outlines some great exercise options to help combat Osteoporosis and promote healthier BMD levels for different age or life categories.
As you continue to move and push your body to greater levels, you begin to increase your work output and stamina. This equates to normal physical tasks in your daily life requiring less of your energy, therefore allowing you to potentially have more endurance to get additional chores done, do additional exercises or just generally not be exhausted at the end of a typical day.
Some people exercise to blow off steam or to experience the rush of endorphins secreted within the brain. While the science is still not fully understood, there definitely seems to be a strong connection between exercise and emotional state. An article from the American Psychological Association, discusses the short-term effect of exercise and its seemingly great ability to enhance your mood and possibly help alleviate long-term depression.
The Sleep Doctor points to research that indicates regular exercise (done in a consistent manner) can help increase the quality and amount of sleep you get. Building on the correlation between exercise and stress/anxiety reduction, exercise may help ease your mind at the end of the day allowing for an easy transition to rest. Additionally, because our bodies use rest time as recovery and rebuilding time, good sleep is vital for long-term success with exercise programs.
Whether you are looking to stay in shape for a sport or planning to get in shape for the first time, keeping your body moving and active can have some positive effects on your daily life. Additionally, if you are looking for a good starting point, you can read our blog: