Exercise The Mind As Well As The Body To Revive Your Spirit

We all know that exercise is good for your body, whether that’s losing a few inches or simply feeling healthier, but exercise is also good for the mind. Kate Dorward, HA fitness trainer, shares a few useful facts and tips to help motivate you, achieve results by introducing a few simple changes to your training programme and revive any flagging spirits.

Exercise for the mind:

  • A healthy body equals a healthy mind. Taking regular exercise is proven to enhance your mental function. Exercise boosts your circulation, getting more oxygen and glucose (the brain’s only source of energy) direct to your brain.
  • Most of us know that exercise releases endorphins, otherwise known as happy hormones.  Amazingly these clever little mood enhancers can lift your spirits for up to 12 hours after exercise – that’s about 11.5 hours longer than the lift a bar of chocolate gives you!
  • Research has proven that 20 minutes of exercise can significantly improve your body image. 
  • The best times to exercise are at around 10am or 5pm. Not only is this when your body is physically strongest and nicely warmed up, your adrenaline levels are also at their peak therefore making your mind sharp.
  • Set yourself some realistic goals e.g. to drop a dress size/ do exercise 3 times a week, and help yourself stick to them by sharing your goals with someone else. It’s a fact that you’re much more likely to succeed than if you keep your aims to yourself.

Exercise for the body:

  • Can’t find the time to fit in exercise? You really don’t need an hour for it to count. Exercise is accumulative - 10 mins walk here and 10 mins vigorous gardening there all really add up. Before you know it, you’ll have done your recommended 30 mins per day and not even put on your gym kit.  So next time you walk to the station/park/shops, push yourself to walk super fast for a few mins and you’ll look and feel better in no time.
  • Exercise, especially weight bearing exercise like running and toning using weights are really important in helping to prevent osteoporosis later on in life.
  • Ladies, if the words ‘weight training’ fill you with dread at the thought of looking muscle bound, fear not! Unlike men, our genetic make-up makes it hard for us to bulk-up. Training with weights should be included in your fitness programme at least twice a week to help build lean muscle – this is crucial in improving your body shape whilst helping increase your metabolism.
  • Hate running? Walking is a fantastic way of burning fat and getting your legs and bum into shape.  Get the technique right and you will burn 15-30% more calories per walk. Next time you hit the pavement remember to walk tall, shoulders back and down, tummy pulled in and to really push through  off through your toes to lengthen your stride, get your glutes (bottom muscles) firing and get a speedy pace up.
  • Drink!! Water that is... Dehydration is a major cause of over eating, lethargy and poor performance.

Follow these 10 tips, and you'll soon start to not only look but feel happier and healthier!

Kate Dorward

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Getting High on Exercise!

We all know that regular exercise is great for toning-up your body, warding-off disease and generally improving your overall health.

But exercise is also a great mood enhancer. It can put a smile on your face when you’re feeling down and boost your energy levels when you’re feeling weary.

But why does this happen? Here are some of the most popular theories which try to explain that exercise high.

The Endorphin Effect

If you go back to our hunter/gatherer days, prolonged physical activity was necessary for our survival. If we didn’t go out chasing animals and rummaging for food, we’d basically starve. It’d therefore make sense if our bodies had a way of reducing pain during the hunt, and somehow make this physical activity more enjoyable.

This is where endorphins come in. They’re chemically similar to morphine, and naturally relieve pain within the body.

Although they’re not fully understood, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that endorphin levels in the blood rise during exercise (and also during sex… but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions there!). These endorphins appear to not only increase our tolerance of pain, but also give us a sense of pleasure and relaxation.

Getting Satisfaction

Exercise can also give you a great sense of achievement, and this could be part of the high that you experience.

Whether you’ve managed to run to the top of a hill without stopping, or survived your first tough exercise class, you can really feel triumphant and get a buzz from a good workout.

Stress-busting Fitness Fantasies

Exercise can also provide a great distraction from life’s troubles. Whether you’re out on a run or in the gym, there’s absolutely nothing you can do about finishing that report, achieving those sales targets or paying the bills.

It’s also amazing how the answers to your problems can somehow pop into your head during a tough training session. As a result, you’ll often come home feeling not only healthier, but a much happier person too.

For daydreamers like me, exercise can also be a time to allow your mind to wander. You can enter into your own private make-believe world, where you can be whoever you want to be and achieve anything you want to achieve (anyone for the 2012 Olympics?!).

Conclusion – Chase that High!

Regular training can definitely perk you up, relieve stress, and give you a heightened sense of well-being.

Whilst the jury is still out as to exactly what causes this high, it does exist and is definitely a habit that’s worth pursuing.

All it takes is a bit of hard work on your part, and you’ll be rewarded with an energy-boosting, exercise-induced, feel-good factor. Best of all, its free, legal and available on-tap!

Surely it’s not something you should be missing out on?

Posted by Heather Waghorn.