Exercise: Medicine for the Mind and Body
Aug 29, 2012
As the dog days of summer slowly fade from the horizon, to-do lists become longer with the craziness of back to school schedules, days become shorter with less sunlight brightening our days, and our carefree summer moods can quickly sour if we aren’t careful. Incorporating a consistent fitness routine into your end-of-summer schedule can help keep a pep in your step and a smile on your face during the summer/fall transition period.
Studies show that exercise is just what the doctor ordered for living a happy and healthy life anytime of the year, but especially when life has you running in many different directions. A healthy and fit lifestyle that includes daily exercise can help keep you focused, mentally and physically aligned, and in good spirits year round. Fitness can lead to overall happiness by offering the following life balancing and enhancing characteristics.
- Setting Goals: The cornerstone of a sound fitness routine includes setting goals that lead to positive lifestyle results. Whether your goals include losing weight, training for an endurance event, bench pressing a certain amount of weight or reducing inches around your waistline, setting fitness goals creates a structured environment of clear expectations that can lead to happy and healthy outcomes.
- Pushing Through Rough Times: One of the important lessons that a consistent workout routine can teach you is that most days will produce great workouts, but a few days every once in awhile will lead to less than desirable workouts. Even so, a rough workout (feeling tired, sore, poor mood) is better than no workout at all. Finishing a less than desired workout can still lead to a happy ending – feeling a sense of accomplishment and appreciating the effort exerted to lead an active lifestyle. Exercise teaches us to turn a negative into a positive by pushing through the rough times to make way for good times and great workouts when you feel on top of the world.
- Releasing Mental and Physical Tension: Stress, responsibilities, work and family commitments, and over-scheduling are common conditions that can exist in our everyday lives. Exercise can be a healthy outlet to blow off steam and turn these often negative elements in our lives into more manageable and happy situations. In fact, several lines of research suggest that exercise increases brain serotonin function in the human brain, which is believed to contribute to feelings of well-being and happiness. Specifically, research has indicated that patients diagnosed with depression have realized positive effects after they increased their physical activity.1
- Celebrating Your Successes: Too many times in our busy lives we forget to stop and take the time to celebrate our successes. A fitness routine based around specific goals naturally leads to accomplishments that are worthy of a celebration. So whether you finish your first 5k race, break a personal best record or complete a group workout with friends three times in one week, have fun, be happy about your accomplishments and enjoy your successes. Isn’t that what motivates us to keep going in the first place?
If you find yourself feeling down during the summer/fall transition this year, take a dose of consistent exercise to lift your spirits and keep your body moving in a healthy direction. The professionals at Fitness Together are here to help you get back on track to working out regularly or to enhance your existing workout routine so you can realize healthy and happy results for both your mind and body. Talk to your trainer today!
1J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2007 November; 32(6): 394–399.