Many people feel too lazy to exercise regularly. However, leading an active lifestyle has multiple benefits, both physical and mental. Furthermore, you don’t necessarily have to join a gym to reap these benefits. You can look into group sports and classes, you could go for a walk after dinner every day, cycle to work… There are so many possibilities for activities that just require you to move around while doing something you enjoy. Try to find that thing, there’s an activity for everyone out there!
Here are 7 of the innumerable benefits you can take advantage of if you lead an active lifestyle, regardless of what sport or activity you choose to undertake regularly.
Newsflash: we all have problems. Whether it’s work-related or personal, all of us face challenges, if not on a daily basis, then at least fairly regularly. One way to at least partially deal with a problem is to distract yourself from it. Even though this doesn’t make the problem magically disappear, a distraction allows you to distance yourself for a moment and clear your head.
Going for a run, for example, allows you to calm down and maybe find a new perspective on a problem that you hadn’t considered before. Exercise also energises you and thus makes you feel more prepared to tackle a problem head-on.
Being active increases your ability to focus because you have to wholeheartedly commit to the activity. You can’t just pull out your phone in the middle of a football game to answer a text (or, at least, you shouldn’t if you don’t want to get kicked out of the team…).
Additionally, physical activities usually require a high level of concentration because you need to coordinate your muscles to do something in a very specific way. This focus capacity will translate to other aspects of your life.
Strength & Resilience
Being active increases both your physical and mental strength. The latter can also be called “resilience”. Physically, you build your muscles, and you’ll soon notice that you’re able to run faster, lift heavier, etc. In other words, you’ll get better at your chosen activity.
Your progress may be lightning-fast, slow, or even non-linear (you might improve at different rates or regress and then improve again). Regardless, you will get better. And getting better at a physical activity increases your mental resilience.
Being active leads to not just a better-looking physique, but also to feeling more energetic and more capable. Feeling like you can take on any challenge will increase your self-confidence. We, as a society, have been trying to change the norms so that a positive body-image is not all about being skinny anymore. It’s about being healthy and looking fit.
Exercising releases happy hormones, which leads to a better mood. It also acts as stress-relief, so you feel less pressured. You’ve probably heard of the “runner’s high”, an intense good feeling you achieve from challenging yourself in just the right way while running. This feeling is created by our brain producing endorphins and other feel-good hormones to counter the effort of exercising.
People who practice group sports or work out with others have the added benefit of social interactions, which can also drastically improve our mood because we get a sense of community.
Exercise has been shown to prevent many different diseases such as cancer, stroke, diabetes, and heart conditions. Exercising gets the blood circulating around the body, which has many positive effects. Apparently, regular physical activity can clear up your skin and strengthen your bones. So, unless you totally overdo it, being active on a regular basis may help you live longer. And who wouldn’t want that?
Of course, being active also prevents you from becoming obese and all the problems associated with an unhealthy weight.
Better Sleep and Boosted Brain Power
Regular exercise can promote higher-quality sleep. However, it is recommended that you don’t work out too close to bedtime since that can prevent you from falling asleep.
Research has shown that exercise boosts memory, learning, and decision-making. Since getting enough (good) sleep will also make you think sharper, you get the double boost of brain power.
In conclusion, being active has so many benefits for both your body and your mind. It also helps you in the long-term by making you more resilient and more self-confident, so you can tackle future problems in a better way than you did before.
The recommended minimum amount of exercise (where you elevate your heart rate, breathe faster, and feel like your body is heating up) is usually 2.5-3 hours per week. I recommend more! Because the more you stay active, the faster you’re going to feel the positive impact.
However, you should always listen to your body and stop if you feel that something is wrong.