Weight loss, clothes fitting better, loving what you see in the mirror – is this what fitness means to you? But these are not what we are alluding to at all! If anything, these are added bonuses to all that fitness does for you. In fact, it is probably the link with weight loss that has given fitness less than its due credit in our lives. Here are 5 ways OTHER than weight loss in which fitness makes you happier.
You must have heard of ‘runner’s high’ and ‘happy chemicals’
that are released in the body when you exercise. It is not a myth! Exercise
stimulates production of dopamine, a chemical that is responsible for
communicating the feeling of happiness within your body. Exercise also promotes the production of endorphins which are natural mood boosters. Endorphins suppress the action of stress hormones like cortisol, act against the perception of pain, improve immunity and elevate our spirits. Meaning a fitter you is a naturally happier you!
Just five minutes of physical activity can stimulate the release of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. What happens is that the physical strain of exercise is perceived by the brain as a threat and in defence, it releases a protein called BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) that puts you at ease and causes you to feel happy. These, combined with endorphins are a potent cocktail that de-stresses and promotes the mental wellbeing of those who routinely exercise. When your body is regularly tackling the stress of workouts, it also leaves you more capable of handling other stress.
Makes you more energetic
If you believe exercise saps you of energy, you obviously haven’t stayed with it for long enough to reap the benefits. If you have led a sedentary life, the first couple of days may leave you more tired but as the habit sets in, you will find that your workout session is in fact leaving you more energised to face the day. The same chemicals we mentioned before that fight pain perception and ease anxiety propel your body to function at an optimal level. Your body is also stronger and more flexible than ever before, which is why you will find yourself climbing stairs and playing with the kids with far more ease than before.
Prevents cognitive decline
Exercise boosts supply of oxygen to the brain, thereby stimulating the brain cells and preventing cognitive decline. It is found to improve memory and concentration and boost creativity as well. Starting a healthy fitness regimen early in life will take you through middle age and beyond with a lesser level of cognitive decline. Also, as we get older the body produces far less dopamine so we actively need to find ways of boosting its presence. In short words, to stay happy as we grow older, we need exercise!
Not everyone has the willpower to take up and maintain a
healthy lifestyle for fitness. Just the feeling that you have achieved
something not everyone can, can vastly improve your self-confidence. When you start working out, there is a sense of accomplishment and an increased belief in your own ability to overcome challenges. The way your clothes fit and the way you look in the mirror are of course additional factors that build up your self esteem.