The joy of exercise

Working out does not just help your body feel stronger, it can also help improve your mood and wellbeing

12 Apr 2021 / 10:11 H.

CONSIDERING that Malaysians have spent the better part of a year mostly confined to their homes, there is no better time to start implementing a regular exercise regime. Exercise can have an enormous impact on your mood.

In fact, it is thought that exercise can be just as effective as antidepressants in treating mild-to-moderate depression.

When you engage in high-intensity exercise, your body and brain produce hormones and neurotransmitters that have a positive impact on your mood, memory, energy levels, and sense of well-being.

Some of these are known as endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals. They can result in the “runner’s high” that joggers talk about.

After a good workout, your muscles are tired, but you feel more relaxed. You may also feel a sense of accomplishment, which boosts your self-confidence and improves your sense of well-being. Thanks to your workout, the pent-up tension and stress in your muscles and your mind are reduced.

How often should you exercise?

Most experts recommend regular exercise three times a week. If that sounds unachievable right now, don’t worry. Starting small with just one session a week once a week is enough to make a difference.

You can slowly increase the frequency of your exercise over time, and eventually graduate to daily sessions. And there are several exercises that are perfectly suitable for beginners, or people who have never exercised before.

Walking is probably the most accessible of all exercises. Taking a stroll around your neighbourhood can do wonders. You can invite your family members or neighbours to join you.

If you would like to complement walking with something a little more dynamic, yoga could just be the thing for you. If you have the means and access, you can consider adding sports like biking and swimming to your routine.

Benefits of exercise

Exercise can help provide:

Sharper memory and thinking. The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.

Higher self-esteem. Regular activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. When it becomes a habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel stronger. You’ll feel better about your appearance and gain a sense of achievement.

Better sleep. Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.

More energy. Increasing your heart rate several times a week will give you more get-up-and-go. Start off with just a few minutes of exercise per day, and increase your workout as you feel more energised.

Resilience. When faced with mental or emotional challenges, exercise can help you build resilience. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress.

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