If you’re like me, you’ll love doing things in your life which give you huge satisfaction. Activities that put a smile on your face, give you a boost and generally make you feel happy and good about the world. And more importantly, yourself!
One of the key health benefits of fitness mentally is that it helps to normalise your glucose (sugar), insulin, and leptin levels by optimising insulin/leptin receptor sensitivity. This is perhaps the most important factor for optimising your overall health and preventing chronic disease and actually makes everything work efficiently from the inside.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
It’s these important activities that I term as ‘feeding your soul’ because to me that’s exactly what it feels like!
So how does this happen exactly..? What are the mental benefits of fitness?
Let’s find out.
It’s all in the endorphins…
Exercise affects your body in countless other ways, too, both directly and indirectly. Even the most unexpected side effects are almost universally beneficial. For example, side effects of exercise include but are not limited to:
– Improved sexual function
– Reduces stress
– Clearer skin
– Improved mood
– Improved sleep
– Weight control
– Sense of well being
All of the above can make an individual feel alive, buzzed and ‘euphoric’, surely a feeling you’d want to experience every time you exercise? Along with the amazing effect exercise has on the body, it’s also very calming on the mind as what affects one affects the other. After all, the mind and body are one system!
In order to balance the body, mind and soul, we need to focus on the body and what it needs to have a positive influence on our state of being. Collectively this feeds our soul, mind and body and helps:
– Remove toxins from your body and calm the mind
– Promote free flowing energy through physical exercise
– Follow your body’s natural rhythms and movements
– This is where Endorphins become very powerful agents in helping us achieve this ‘euphoric’ calming affect that can last the whole day!
So what’s an Endorphin (our happy chemical)
Endorphins are chemicals that are able to cross through the gaps between neurones in order to pass along a message from one to the next and there are many different kinds. They are manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of your body and are released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neurone receptors endorphins bind to, are the same ones that bind some pain medicines.
Endorphins act as both a painkiller and as the pay-off for your body’s reward system. When you hurt yourself, you may get a big dose of endorphins to ease the pain. You may also get an endorphin blast from watching a funny movie, eating a satisfying meal or being exposed to ultraviolet light.
One thing is known for certain about endorphins is their ability to make you feel good and happy. When your body is subjected to certain stimuli like sex, food or exercise, your hypothalamus calls for endorphins, and the cells throughout your body that contain them release them accordingly.
Exercise stimulates endorphin production as well, but for a different reason. You’re probably familiar with the term “runner’s high,” which refers to the euphoric feeling one can get when exercising. Researchers have found that light-to-moderate weight training or cardiovascular exercise doesn’t produce endorphins, only heavy weights or training that incorporates sprinting or other anaerobic exertion.
These endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows an intense run or heavy workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energising outlook on life or a ‘buzz’ as some call it.
It’s this ‘euphoric’ feeling, that for many, really feels like its ‘feeding’ their soul. It makes you feel that good! I for one can testify to how great I feel once I’ve completed a heavy set of barbell squats or a set of chins. It leaves you with a great sense of achievement and accomplishment.
It’s another reason why so many office workers in the city rush to the gym in their lunch break to simply get that ‘buzz’ and shot of endorphins. This is how exercise can help lighten their mood for the rest of their day. In this way it really is feeding your soul…
So what are you waiting for? Get up out of that armchair, grab your sports kit and let’s head to the gym and get releasing those happy chemicals!