Exercise is necessary to prevent disease. The CDC states that it reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even some cancers. But did you also know it’s an important part of self-care? That’s because physical activity can help you both mentally and emotionally.
How Exercise Boosts Your Brain’s Chemistry
Rigorous exercise produces three important chemicals in our brains. Those neurotransmitters directly impact our emotional wellness in key ways:
- Dopamineaffects mood and can produce feelings of pleasure and contentment. Certain people suffer from dopamine deficits, which some scientists believe can lead to drug use.
- Endorphinsalso boost mood and may be helpful in reducing depression. They naturally fight pain and stress as well.
- Serotonin can reduce depression and hostility, and it improves both mood and behavior.
A regular fitness routine ensures your body is producing these regularly.
Exercise and Mental Health
While these chemicals boost mood, exercise has an important place in self-care, thanks to its effect on your mental health:
- Exercise reduces stress and anxiety.
- It helps build self-confidence.
- Regular exercise increases your energy levels and productivity.
- It can improve your libido.
- A good workout can help you sleep better at night.
- It may even help slow down cognitive decline.
Read more about the mental health benefits of exercise at Greatist. How else can a fitness routine impact you?
Recent research indicates that exercise may help people progress through substance abuse treatment programs. Researchers have been searching for a link, and some lab studies suggest that exercise can be part of an effective course of treatment. Italso provides a healthy replacement for risky addictions.
How To Start A Fitness Routine
There are some steps to take before you start a fitness routine.
- Talk to your doctor.
It is critical to make sure you are physically able to work out. Your doctor will advise you on what kind of activities are safe for your level of health. He can tell you if high or low impact exercise, strength building, or cardio is best. He may even recommend a nutrient or supplement plan to support you.
- Choose the right workouts.
Whatever he recommends, make sure that you choose an activity you like. It will be far more difficult to stick to a program you don’t enjoy.
- Build your own routine.
You can create a routine to do in your home. Be sure to include both cardio and strength building for a complete workout. Check out these tips from Nerd Fitness on how to build your own routine.
- Start slowly and increase regularly.
If you haven’t exercised in a long time, you should start slowly. As you progress, gradually increase your reps. When you’re stronger, add more challenging exercises.
- Warm up and cool down.
Make sure to warm up before exercising. Jogging for a few minutes is an easy choice. When you’re done, cool down by stretching your muscles for about 5 minutes so you don’t cramp up.
- Don’t overdo it.
You might be tempted to ramp up to see results quicker, but you can easily hurt yourself if you push too hard. Know your limitations and don’t overdoyour fitness routine. This is especially important if you are in addiction recovery as it is common to get obsessive about working out.
- Eat right and hydrate.
Make sure you have enough nutrition (including protein) and hydration for your workout. Working out on an empty stomach can be harmful!
Fitness is an important part of self-care that improves physical health, builds emotional health, and can help anyone, even people in recovery. Choose your exercise routine wisely so it becomes an enjoyable part of your lifestyle.
Sheila Olson has been a personal trainer for five years. She believes the best way to achieve physical fitness and good health is to set and tackle small goals. She encourages her clients to stay positive and incorporates mindfulness and practices for reducing negative talk into her sessions. She created FitSheila.com to spread the word about her fitness philosophy.