Today marks National Fitness Day. A day which highlights the role physical activity plays across the UK. It raises awareness of its importance in ensuring we lead healthy and active lifestyles.
Why is fitness important?
Regular exercise for everyone is important; children, adolescents and adults of all ages, it’s one of the best ways to keep our bodies healthy and improve our overall wellbeing and quality of life.
Now that summer is officially over and Autumn brings those colder mornings and darker evenings, we feel less motivated to get up and workout, or get active when the sun begins to set. Being active doesn’t necessarily mean you need to run a half marathon every day, it could be a 20-minute active walk on your lunch break. Enabling your heart to get active and pumping, pushes out more blood with each beat, allowing it to function more efficiently and reducing stress on your heart.
However, if you want to do more than a walk, you could try a few home workouts. Here’s some you could try:
- Jump Squats
- Mountain Climbers
- Jumping Jacks
These are all simple exercises that can be conducted in your home, or even in your office. And, besides from making your heart happy, it will make you feel mentally happy. Regular physical exercise is a natural mood lifter, it can help relieve stress and anxiety. When you exercise your body releases chemicals called endorphins(1). These interact with the receptors in your brain which trigger a positive feeling, hence the term “runner’s high”.
A number of studies have found that exercise can help with depression, and leave you with a healthier state of mind. Common finds were:
- Exercising alongside others provides an opportunity for increased social contact
- Increased fitness may lift your mood and improve your sleeping patterns
- Exercise may also change your levels of chemicals in your brain, such a serotonin, endorphins and stress hormones.
As well as boosting your mood, research has shown for exercise to improve sleep. According to John Hopkins Medicine, moderate aerobic exercise (e.g swimming, cycling, etc.) increases the amount of slow wave sleep you get. Slow wave sleep refers to deep sleep, where your body has the chance to rest up and rejuvenate. Improving your sleep through exercise is not generally going to take months to see the benefits(2).
Exercise also causes change in the temperature of our bodies. After exercise, our body temperature decreases. This mimics a similar change that happens when your body prepares to sleep. The similarity here may send signals to your brain that it’s time to sleep, creating a restful feeling which helps encourage sleep for when you’re ready to go to bed.
So, don’t just exercise for the physical benefits, do it for your mind.