Much has been made of the physical benefits of aerobic exercise. It’s true that a regular aerobic exercise program can reduce migraines, help you lose weight, reduce heart attacks and strokes, lower blood pressure, and improve all measures of endurance and physical health … perhaps even add years to our lives, but that’s not the problem. the whole story. Regular aerobic exercise is as important to our sense of well-being and mental health as it is to our physical health. As you will see in this article, even if aerobic exercise did nothing to increase our life expectancy, increasing our quality of life is well worth the effort.
Stress Benefits of Aerobic Exercise: If you’ve ever sat up front at a red light and saw passing faces, you know that most people are living a stressed and unhappy life experience. Obviously, exercise will do nothing for the circumstances in our life, but it can change the way we view those circumstances. Aerobic exercise helps maintain the balance of brain chemicals. One group of chemicals that are produced in abundance through aerobic exercise are endorphins. These brain chemicals tend to relax us and give us the ability to cope with stressful situations in a much more relaxed way. They won’t stop your boss from yelling at you, but they might help you stop him from yelling at you, because it just doesn’t affect you like it used to. We find ourselves worrying less, sleeping better, and being more relaxed all day, simply because we add aerobics to our routine.
Mental processing benefits of aerobic exercise: not only will we be more relaxed with our lives, but we will also perform our activities better. Aerobic exercise improves blood flow to all areas of the body. For physical activities, sensitivity and endurance are improved. The same improvement in blood flow generates notable increases in mental acuity, cognitive ability and stamina. With better blood flow comes all the nutrients that keep our brains working. Mental tasks are done more quickly with fewer errors over longer periods of time. People who do aerobic exercise regularly are likely to experience increases in mental capacity of 10 to 30%, as accurately as possible. If you’re smart as a whip, how much smarter could you be? Unfortunately, if you’re as dumb as dirt, you’ll only get better at saying, potting soil.
Mental health benefits of aerobic exercise: As impressive as mental processing are the effects of aerobic exercise on mental health. Many suffer from mild to moderate anxiety and depression. In fact, the pharmaceutical industry is making billions from these mild cases, in which the problem is too serious to ignore, but not serious enough for mind-altering drugs or psychiatric hospital care. Get into aerobic exercise! Under “stress” above, we discussed how aerobics normalize brain chemicals. These are exactly the chemicals that the new drugs for mild depression and anxiety are designed on. Many have eliminated the need for medications by naturally inducing their bodies to produce the chemicals through exercise. Of course, consult your doctor before making any changes to your medications, but, as with stress, mild to moderate anxiety, migraines, and depression have all been managed with aerobic exercise.
Wellness Benefits of Aerobic Exercise – Obviously, if stress, mental processing, and mental health can be improved, our sense of well-being improves, but it’s actually more powerful than that. As these areas improve, our entire sense of identity changes. We begin to have much higher self-esteem and confidence, due to increased skills and the fact that things are less annoying and distracting. I know I said that aerobic exercise won’t stop your boss from yelling at you, but it could. With a better attitude, fewer mistakes, and feeling more relaxed and confident, we can avoid work and interpersonal problems that end in yelling from our bosses. Who knows, maybe someone will be sitting at a stoplight one day and see one of the rarest creatures go by … a smiling face … you … all because you started an aerobic workout routine.
Written by Glen D. Williams