How Does Physical Activity Improve Physical and Mental Health?

In recent decades, there has been a decrease in physical activity in the average person’s life due to technological advancements and a decrease in demanding physical activity that was once part of a daily lifestyle. The advances in technology have not only impacted a person’s personal life but also, professional lives and recreational aspects of life. Before the technological advancements, it was possible to do the required physical activity just by engaging in performing daily chores, walking to get to a bus or train station, and performing physically demanding tasks in one’s work environment.

Exercise

Exercise

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In today’s world, most jobs require us to sit for long hours and our idea of entertainment has also been shifted as most entertainment-related activities also are oriented towards using computers and sitting for an extended amount of time in front of screens. Consequently, there is a significant shift towards a sedentary lifestyle in modern times and this shift has certainly led to an increase in various diseases that are related to our sedentary lifestyle. Physical activity is crucial for maintaining good physical health as well as developing psychological well-being. Here are a few physical and psychological health benefits that highlight the importance of physical activity in our daily lives.

Physical health benefits from physical activity

Physical activity includes anything from going to the gym or even going for a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day. Fun activities like cycling and swimming too are a form of physical activity. You can increase your activity slowly as you gain more strength. Here are the top benefits you can gain physically when you are involved in any such activity.

The benefit of healthy skin

Exercise is very beneficial for improving the condition of your skin as it improves blood circulation and provides the skin cells with an adequate amount of nutrients and oxygen. This promotes the production of new skin cells and, improves collagen production in the skin. These effects make the skin glow and provide an antiaging effect. Moreover, sweating due to physical activity can help the body get rid of excess waste products and open clogged pores in the skin.

Physical activity improves lung function.

Exercise also has a positive effect on respiratory health. Due to increased demands for oxygen during exercise, there is an increase in the respiratory rate and heart rate of a person. These effects play a significant role in improving lung capacity. Additionally, physical activity helps build respiratory muscles. Overall, exercise increases breathing capacity and improves lung function. It also plays a preventive role in avoiding many respiratory health problems.

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Improved cholesterol levels

It is very important to manage one’s cholesterol to avoid many health problems like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. According to an article, at Rawbeautysource regular exercise increases the concentration of good cholesterol (HDL) and helps decrease the amount of bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides in the body. An improved lipid profile significantly decreases the risk of heart diseases, stroke, and diabetes.

A healthy heart

Regular exercise has many beneficial effects on the heart. It provides a protective role in preventing many heart conditions by helping reduce body weight and building heart muscles. It also helps lower one’s blood pressure that is a major risk factor for developing heart disease in life. Overall, these positive effects allow one’s heart to pump blood more efficiently, reduce the workload for the heart and help prevent heart diseases like myocardial infarction and atherosclerosis.

Strengthens the Immune System

Regular physical activity boosts the immune system and improves one’s ability to fight infections. Exercise helps remove bacteria from the lungs and airways. This decreases the chances of developing flu and cold. Also, physical activity helps white blood cells circulate in the blood more effectively and they can detect infectious agents early and may be able to ward off potential diseases. The rise in body temperature during and after exercise helps the fight off infections effectively and also, prevents many bacteria from growing within the body.

Strengthens your bones

Exercise makes the bone stronger and it is essential to build strong and denser bones and maintaining their strength. Regular exercise increases the calcium content of the bones and improves their density. This prevents the development of many bone-related diseases like osteoporosis. Additionally, regular physical activity improves one’s balance and coordination that helps prevent many fall-related injuries and bone fractures.

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Builds more muscle

Exercise helps one to build different muscles of the body. This muscular strength improves one’s ability to function effectively in daily life and impacts bone health positively by improving one’s posture and reducing the chances of back pain. Also, muscle strengthening help prevents joint diseases like arthritis and it helps to improve the daily functioning of people who are already suffering from joint diseases.

Weight control

Regular physical exercise helps manage one’s weight. It increases the number of calories burnt and helps reduce body weight. This decreases the risk of developing many health conditions like diabetes, heart diseases, stroke, and many other diseases.

Mental health benefits of physical activity

Regular physical activities not only have benefits for your physical well-being but also have good benefits for your psychological health. Following are some of the beneficial effects of physical activity on mental well-being.

Improves brain function

Exercising or any physical activity helps release Serotonin which further releases endorphins. These are natural mood enhancers and promote a feel-good factor. This can help in overcoming depression and improving your mood too. It is also helpful for people who have anxiety-related problems. Furthermore, it also helps with clearing thoughts and being able to process them better.

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Fights depression and anxiety

Exercising decreases the symptoms of depression and anxiety by acting as a mood booster by increasing endorphin levels. Endorphins are a chemical produced by the brain and the spinal cord which produces the feeling of happiness. If you have anxiety or depression, even moderate exercises starting with 30 minutes a day can help enhance your mood. Many doctors advise people suffering from such symptoms to get some physical exercise daily before opting for drugs.

Reduces stress levels

Stress has become a part of our daily lives. It is also one of the major causes of many diseases. Regular exercise reduces stress levels and allows us to feel happier. Physical activity also helps improve the ability to respond to stress more easily.

Improves self-confidence and self-esteem.

When you lose weight through exercises or feel happier after a workout, it boosts your self-esteem and makes you more confident about yourself. Also, when you can increase your endurance and strength over time, you get a feeling of accomplishment. All these feelings help boost your body and mind’s well-being.

Better Sleep

We all know the feeling of awakening in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Disturbed sleep makes you irritated and also increases anxiety. Physical exercises increase the body temperature which can have a calming effect on your mind. This leads to good sleep.

How to stay motivated for physical activities

We have often made resolutions to start a physical activity only to drop it a few weeks later. This is generally because we get bored of the activity. Here is a list of tips that can help you stay motivated while doing physical activities to achieve your physical and mental fitness goals.

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Pick a fitness activity that you enjoy

Maybe running on a treadmill or cycling on a stationary cycle at the gym is not very exciting for you. You can choose other activities that you prefer more like jogging outdoors, swimming or running. You can also choose from creative exercise activities like yoga, aerobics, etc which are done in groups and are more fun. If you feel too shy or don’t like to commute to the gym, you can buy basic gym equipment and create a little gym at home for yourself. That way you can exercise whenever you feel like it.

Take it slowly

This is another reason many people quit fitness-related activities. If you start with a very high-intensity workout, chances are you will be fatigued quickly and will also have sore muscles. Try to start at a slow pace and relax by taking breaks while exercising. If you feel breathless, lie down for a bit and regain your breath. Exercising for moderate or brief periods also has its benefits and breathing exercises before and after your workout will help you relax faster as you increase the intensity. Breathing deeply lowers your resting heart rate too.

Eat healthy foods

Excess of salt can increase your blood pressure which will make it hard for you to exercise. Unhealthy fast food contains a lot of fat and sugar which can make you feel lazy and lethargic. Try to eat superfoods that give you a boost of energy. Eat small portions frequently than eating big meals two times a day. Staying hungry for long can make you reach out for fatty food, so make sure you eat your breakfast and have a scheduled meal plan. Spice your food with herbs and salt-free seasoning to make it healthier.

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Have a routine

A good routine sets in a natural body alarm clock for you, making it easier for you to glide through your day instead of making decisions every day about what you should do. Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Make sure you give yourself enough time to relax and fall asleep to get at least 7 hours of sleep. Shortage of sleep can lead to a heart attack or stroke. At the same time, a good routine wherein you sleep well can bring the best out for your overall well-being.

References

https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/exercise-and-mental-health

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/7-heart-benefits-of-exercise

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