Happiness, Mental Health, Mind Body

Why Exercise? Why Not?

man and woman smiling while exercising

“You’re only one workout away from a good mood.” – Anonymous

woman looking happy while running

Questioning Exercise?

Exercise is extremely important for the body and mind. We may have heard that exercise is good and important for humans to do, but many of us may not know why this is the case. So, why is exercise so good for us? Why should we put ourselves through an exercise regimen? What benefits come from exercise? How often should one exercise to receive the benefits of it? 

All of these questions and more will be answered and by the time you are done reading this blog post you will have a great understanding of what exercise does to the body and mind and why it is a good idea to engage in it frequently.

Exercise Defined

It may be a good idea to start with a definition of exercise before describing why exercise is beneficial. Exercise is any sort of movement that requires one to be physically active. The key to exercise is that some sort of movement is involved. 

man exercising on the beach

A common misconception is that exercise has to be vigorous. This is not the case. Instead, any sort of movement can be exercise. For example, while running is certainly exercise, walking is exercise as well. Therefore, there are all sorts of types of exercises – far too many to list here. But if it involves moving one’s body for periods at a time you can probably be safe to assume it is some form of exercise.

Exercise Benefits for the Body

Now that we have established a general baseline definition for what exercise is, it is time to start discussing why exercise is beneficial. To begin, exercise is extremely beneficial for the physical body. 

You may have heard the phrase “if you do not use it, you lose it.” This phrase can be used when it comes to the body and to exercise. If you fail to use your body, such as not using your legs, it is possible (and likely) they will atrophy and lose their ability to function – or at least function at a proper level. 

Exercise can keep our bones, joints, and muscles healthy and functioning as they should. Because exercise heats up our body’s core, exercise also often leads to sweat, our bodies natural cooling system. This function is not only good for cooling our body but regulating the system in the body. 

Furthermore, exercise is beneficial for prevention of diseases and physical ailments such as heart disease. By exercising regularly, one can help lower the chance of experiencing different diseases and ailments. Exercise can also help control weight and reduce the amount of fat in the body, which in turn can help the body function better.

Exercise Benefits for the Mind

It may seem obvious that exercise benefits the body. After all, exercise involves physical activity that requires the body to move around, thus benefiting the body. You may not know that exercise has benefits for the brain as well. 

Exercise can be very good for psychological functioning and the performance of the mind. Exercising helps alleviate negative moods and feelings by causing endorphins to be released into the body. Endorphins are feel-good hormones that help us feel better and improve our mood. Things like depression and anxiety are mental disorders that can be treated with exercise (sometimes by itself and sometimes in conjunction with other things like therapy). 

Exercise & Socialization Benefits

Other than the chemical changes in the brain, exercise is often done with other individuals. When this is the case, exercise provides another important benefit for individuals mental health and overall well-being: socialization. 

a man and a woman smiling getting ready to exercise

It is crucial that humans socialize with one another, as we are social creatures. Many things in today’s society, especially with the continued advances in technology, lead individuals to spend increasingly more and more time alone. People are now staying in and watching tv, playing on their phone, or playing video games – all of which can be done alone and in isolation. Doing something other than watch tv or play on one’s phone and engaging in some exercise – even if done alone and not with other people – often helps people get out of their home and being involved in different things. Many times, this exercise is done with others or around others which gives the opportunity for that social engagement.

When to Exercise and How Much Exercise?

We have now established that exercise is beneficial, both for the body and the mind. How much exercise is needed and when should one exercise though? The answer is: it depends. 

For maximum benefits exercise needs to take place regularly throughout the week. The frequency also depends on the intensity. If one is engaging in moderate exercise, one would need to engage in exercise a bit more frequently. If one is engaging in more vigorous exercise, then one does not need to go as frequently. 

The good news about when to exercise is that exercise at any time is great! If you want to exercise in the morning or at night, the benefits will be virtually the same. The important thing is establishing a routine and committing to actually engaging in exercise on a pretty regular basis.

Reviewing All the Benefits

older woman and man stretching for exercise

Altogether, exercise is extremely important to all humans. It can help with both the body and mind in terms of overall health and well-being. Exercise can help prevent and alleviate illness and disease – both physically and mentally. 

It is important to commit to exercising and find exercise that is enjoyable to you, so that you will continue with the exercise over a long period of time. It can also be valuable to have someone that you exercise with – not only for the social aspect, but also for accountability. 

If you are not exercising, it is a great idea to start with some exercise today, even small amounts can make a difference in your life!

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