Workouts don’t just keep you physically fit, they contribute to your mental well-being as well. Najar Javaid Ibn Gul explains how
Weight loss, burning calories and getting fit. These are all great reasons to work out. And it’s mostly what comes to our mind whenever the word ‘exercise’ is mentioned.
These are some great reasons to work out, but while they’re important, they’re not the only reasons you should be exercising. There are some amazing mental health benefits to working out as well that may even outweigh the physical benefits.
Here are four good reasons why you should be exercising to be mentally alert and emotionally fit.
#1. Exercise reduces depression and anxiety.
For a very long, I was under the impression that religiously inclined folks are less prone to depression and anxiety related issues. I could not understand how someone who had a strong connection to the Almighty could ever experience anxiety or depression.
Later, I realized that anybody could suffer from these issues. Even as there is no alternative to strengthening our relationship with our creator, exercising does help overcome mental health issues.Trust in God, but lock your car first. Exercise acts a great mood elevator and helps in reducing stress levels considerably. It helps in improving concentration as well.
Think of working out as a free therapy that all of us can take immediate advantage of.
#2. Exercise boosts brain power
Dr John Medina, in his outstanding book Brain Rules, lists 12 simple, but powerful rules to get the best out of your brain. Implementing these rules in your life will improve your mindpower so that you can learn, think and act better!
The very first rule he starts with is exercise. Using scientific evidence, he demonstrates how exercise can boost brain power and improve cognitive functions.
He says, “Exercisers outperform couch potatoes in tests that measure long-term memory, reasoning, attention, problem-solving, even so-called fluid intelligence tasks.”
In an interesting study in the University of Dublin, Ireland, scientists found that students who work out regularly had a better memory than students who didn’t. So, if you are a student or if you just want a great memory (like most of us), I don’t know of a better way to boost your brain than by working out.
Still need another reason to work out? The number 1 factor that predicts how well you will age, both mentally and physically, depends pretty much on if you workout on a regular basis.
#3. Exercise improves your energy levels and productivity.
If you are a runner or a regular at the gym, then you know what I’m talking about. After your workout, you feel like you can move a mountain and like you are at the top of the world. That’s because not only is your energy level increased, but your mental clarity and alertness are substantially increased too.
Improving both your mental and physical energy levels means that you’re able to be more productive and focused throughout your day. For example, researchers found that among the participants, of a study they conducted, who worked out reported fewer feelings of fatigue when they engaged in physical activities.
#4. Exercise helps control your cravings
If you have ever tried to lose weight, you know how hard it is to fight food cravings. Though there isn’t a shortcut to this problem, exercise can help you reduce those cravings.
In another case study, researchers found that high-intensity exercises may curb hunger pangs and decrease food cravings. This study also suggested that exercise decreases calorie intake compared to “mental-work.” That’s because exercise decreases our calorie intake, whereas “mental-work,” work that requires a lot of brainpower, increases our desire for food.
So, if you are really craving for some food while doing mental-work, do this:
Rest for 10 seconds
Do 20 squats.
Repeat this 3 times!
Trust me; you’ll notice a difference, sooner than later!
Author is 4th semester student in MSW at the University of Kashmir