Physical Fitness Benefits Muscles and Mind
It’s no secret that hitting the gym or pounding the pavement can promote weight loss, improve cardiovascular health and build muscle, but, in addition to physical benefits, working out can help with matters of the mind as well. For some time now, scientists have researched the link between exercise and brain function. Studies have shown that exercise can provide some significant mental benefits. If you are looking for a little extra motivation to get started or increase your fitness regimen, consider these hidden benefits.
Ever forgotten a drink on the roof of your car or left the grocery store with everything except the one thing you went for in the first place? Take these forgetful cues as a not-so-subtle reminder to strap on those sneakers and do some cardio. Researches at the University of British Columbia recently found that regular aerobic exercise, can to boost the size of the hippocampus, stimulating verbal memory and learning.
Try this at-home cardio pyramid:
- 50 jumping jacks
- 40 mountain climbers
- 30 high knees
- 20 burpees
- 10 lateral jumps
After each round, do a 60 second plank and repeat 2-4 times.
It’s hard to believe that a 20-minute run can relieve anxiety better than a nice, relaxing bubble bath but, according to research conducted by the National Institutes of Health, high intensity aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety sensitivity, a known precursor to panic attacks, and anxiety-related bodily sensations.
Hop on the treadmill for this 20-minute interval workout:
- 0-5 at speed 4
- 5-6 at speed 6
- 6-6:30 at speed 8
- 6:30-7:30 at speed 4
- 7:30-8 at speed 6
- 8-8:30 at speed 9
- 8:30-9:30 at speed 4
- 9:30-10:30 at speed 6
- 10:30-11 at speed 8
- 11-12 at speed 4
- 12-13 at speed 6
- 13-13:30 at speed 9
- 13:30-14:30 at speed 4
- 14:30-15:30 at speed 6
- 15:30-16 at speed 8
- 16-20 at speed 4
When the body experiences pleasure, the brain releases dopamine, or the reward chemical in response. The form of pleasure can be exercise, alcohol, drugs, sex or food. When people become addicted to dopamine they can then become dependent on the substance that provides it. Research has shown, however, that exercise can help in addiction recovery. Short, focused exercise regimens can distract drug or alcohol addicts, a de-prioritizing the current cravings.
To get started, try one of these home workout videos or the body-weight workout provided below:
- 20 to 25 Pushups (on your knees or feet)
- 20 to 25 Squats
- 20 to 25 Assisted Chin-Ups (use a chair)
- 20 to 25 Lunges
- 20 to 25 Pike Presses Shoulders
- 20 to 25 Chair Dips
- 20 to 25 Side Plank
- 20 to 25 Calf Raises
After an intense workout you the first thing you may want to do is head for the showers, but maybe you should hit the drawing board instead. For up to two hours post workout, your creativity levels can be heightened, resulting in a creative burst. If you are an artist, musician or just looking to take on a new project, this is the perfect time to sit down and create. You can increase this effect by taking your workout outdoors and interacting with nature, such as a trail run or challenging hike. So head outdoors for a quick workout and you may just find the solution to your next creative endeavor.