We go to the gym to take care of our bodies. But, have you thought about working out to benefit your mind and attitude as well? Raising endorphins and regulated breathing go beyond just the physical. So, how can yoga, cardio, strength training and other forms of exercise help your brain?
Exercising, including low impact, for as little as 20 minutes a day can help to reduce anxiety and depression. That’s only 2% of your day! Regardless of intensity, moving your body regularly gives you more energy during the day, better sleep, memory improvement and a mood boost. Working out causes your brain’s connections to grow and inflammation to decrease: AKA it makes you feel calmer.
Yoga is probably the most common workout associated with mental health. Why? Well, because it’s been around for thousands of years. It’s considered a way of life that intertwines the physical, mental and spiritual in order to gain wholeness.
The obvious benefits are a flexible and toned body. Some lesser-known physical improvements are better posture, higher energy levels and a balanced metabolism. Mentally, it helps with clarity, reduced stress and self-acceptance. Who knew downward dog could have such an upward impact on your thought patterns?
Cardio encompasses all endurance aerobic exercises, including walking, swimming, running and cycling. The main goal of cardio is to get your heart rate up. There are other benefits such as stabilizing blood sugars and lowering blood pressure. If walking for 20 minutes a day means I can have a little more sugar during the day, sign me up!
Cardio workouts during the day have proven to help with better sleep, leading to better moods. Another interesting benefit is that regularly doing cardio can strengthen your immune system! Cardio also helps to improve cognitive performance. Throw on your leggings and hop on the treadmill the next time you feel stressed.
Strength training is more than weightlifting. It includes body-weight exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups, which is good because sometimes barbells can be intimidating. Stronger muscles allow your everyday tasks to become easier, causing less mental and physical stress on your body. Now, that’s a win-win!
You can build a more positive mindset because this type of training causes endorphin levels to go up and cortisol levels to go down. Kind of like a beneficial see-saw for your mind.
Your brain is one of your most important muscles! Use these takeaways so you can be more mindful during your next workout.
- Practice yoga to get your mind and body in tune with each other.
- Go for a run or walk to improve your mood and sleep better.
- Lift weights to help ease stress.
As well as working out alone, being a part of group classes can vastly increase your mental health too! Fitness Connection has many group classes focused on getting your body and mind healthy. Join us starting May 16th for a special Mindfulness Week to help you find balance between your brain and brawn. Find out more here.