Exercise: Health benefits and how it works
Have you ever given yourself a thought as to what happens to your body when you start working out?
Well , here’s what’s gonna happen
Exercise is like taking a magic pill for your brain and if there were any drug out there which could improve your health just as how exercise does, then it would probably be the most valuable drug out there in the market.
Benefits of Exercising
For most of the successful people in the world, the key to good health and happiness is well you guessed it right, Exercising.
There is something called as Keystone habits. These are certain habits that if practiced, and implemented, bring about change in every aspect of our lives. Exercising is a keystone habit, which is why anyone who goes to the gym or workout regularly will be very self disciplined.
So we all know the physical benefits of exercise, you look better, you lose weight, you become lean, you gain muscle and generally you become fit. These changes are easily observable by the naked eye.
However, the benefits of exercising aren’t just skin deep. A major percentage of people who workout regularly tend to be happier, healthier, more motivated than ever and also less depressed. That is why exercise is considered as the magic drug and has been recommended as a one point solution to overcoming depression, memory loss, Insomnia, alzheimer’s, parkinson’s disease and many other diseases.
The reason for this is that the body naturally produces hormones while exercising and these hormones are serotonin, endorphins and a protein known as Brain-Derived-Neurotrophic-Factor (BDNF). Each of these hormones in their own way helps reduce stress levels, lift someone’s mood, aids in better sleep, improves learning and also leads to increased confidence.
When you start exercising especially for the first time or after a long break, you’ll feel more alert and energized. Because ramping up your heart rate means a boost in overall flow of oxygen to the brain. This releases a neurotransmitter or a hormone called Dopamine which is responsible for motivation. If you’ve ever felt tired or lazy and don’t feel like doing anything, that’s because you are experiencing a dopamine deficit. Dopamine is responsible for our motivation and attention and it’s responsible for the feeling of satisfaction when we accomplish something, it makes you want to do things and it reassures you that the thing was worth doing. So if you’re experiencing a dopamine deficit you can find it hard to get things done because you’re not getting enough satisfaction and motivation by doing them. But whenever you exercise, you directly increase the amount of dopamine in your blood, and instead of feeling tired and worn out you suddenly feel motivated and energized.
Let’s look at the physical effects of exercise.
The physical effects of exercise may not be observed within a few weeks of working out, chances are even after a month of working out there will be little visible results. However, during the entire period of your workout or exercise, certain changes take place without it being noticed by you. For a start, a few weeks after starting a cardio routine, you will notice that you have increased energy due to a rise in metabolism and mitochondria. One of the biggest misconceptions of exercise is that exercise causes weight loss, exercise doesn’t cause weight loss, it causes muscle gain. And since muscles have mitochondria and mitochondria burn energy. Mitochondria are parts of your cells that convert carbs, fats, and proteins into fuel that your muscles use to do their job. After six to eight weeks, research has shown that people can increase their mitochondria by up to 50%. With more mitochondria in your cells, you will notice a change in your fitness.
For instance, you can easily climb a flight of stairs that would have seemed like a herculean task before. After working out for a considerable amount of time, your muscles start to grow stronger even though it might not be visible but you will feel that strength in your muscles. Here there is a tremendous increase in metabolism. Muscle cells need a lot of energy, which means they burn a lot of calories. They burn more calories than fat cells even when you’re not exercising. So your post workout effects tend to be present for a significant period of time. This means you can literally slouch on your couch watching TV or Netflix and still be burning fat. If you consistently exercise, mainly concentrating on cardio. After a period of six months, you can expect a 20% increase in your overall VO2 max.
VO2 max is often used as a fitness indicator, it measures the rate at which your body can transport oxygen to your muscles for fuel. So basically a higher VO2 max means, you should be able to run faster and longer in a shorter time span. So a 20% increase in your VO2 max, should mean that you can run about 20% further in the same amount of time. So this means that if you can run a mile in 10 minutes, a 20% increase in your VO2 max should mean that you can now run 1.2 miles in a 10-minute period or 1 mile in about 8 minutes.
Exercise increases the size of your heart, and helps in strengthening it. When exercising your heart rate increases and pumps more blood than it normally would, in the process, the muscles in your heart are strengthened, which reduces the chance of getting a heart attack. You can see these results after about six months of working out, which is about the same time you start witnessing results in your body.
There are certain physical aspects that might not be witnessable like increased blood flow to the brain. As a result, the brain works faster, more efficiently and can lead to better focus when working. Exercising also supplements the development of new brain cells, which inturn improves your learning and memory. Also exercising releases a hormone called endorphins to counter any stress you might be feeling.
Though inaccurate, endorphins are famously known as “feel-good hormones”, and so when they are released into your body, your mood is lifted and you get a sense of happiness. Ultimately any stress you may be experiencing prior to exercise is alleviated, and so when you consistently workout, your body gets a regular supply of endorphins and dopamine, hence leaving you supercharged and energized to take on the day.
Another major positive effect of exercising is better sleep. Although, the fact that exercising can lead to better sleep can’t be accurately tracked. However, Insomnia and sleep deprivation is usually caused by depression and anxiety. Exercising helps in countering depression and anxiety by the release of magic hormones like endorphins and dopamine. These result in the symptoms of insomnia being negated, and hence you should get better sleep. Moreover, when you exercise just before going to bed, the temperature drop experienced after workout and tiredness could help you fall asleep much faster. Also exercising in the afternoon or early evenings can result in better sleep as well. Our bodies operate on a biological clock called a circadian rhythm, and since insomnia is caused by a skewed circadian rhythm, exercise can help fix our biological clock resulting in better sleep as well. In the short run, exercising lifts your mood because of the release of endorphins and moderate levels of serotonin. The constant release of these hormones makes you feel good about yourself and happy, which amazingly also increases your confidence.
How amazing is that?
The reason behind this is, as you exercise,you get a good feeling about yourself even without seeing any actual physical results. By boldly taking the decision to get healthier, fitter and in shape helps you feel good and proud about yourself and hence the confidence boost. Finally when you start witnessing actual physical changes in your body, your confidence tends to explode. In fact some people have considered exercise as a main reason to have changed their life and mentality towards life in general.
Exercise improves your confidence to the level that you will finally have the courage to ask out that girl you always liked. It can and will improve your grades, it can also save you money by cutting down on trips to the hospital every now and then. And also on money spent buying prescription drugs. So exercising is clearly good for our physical and mental health, and by exercising for just three hours a week consistently, in all probability you’re going to live longer than you otherwise would. And that longer life will likely feel more happy and fulfilling.