You’ll always hear yourself or someone else say “I feel so good after that workout”. But how many times will you intentionally work out to “feel good”. More often than not, you’ll work out to stay fit, lose weight, get your quota of cardio in for the day and so on – these are your physical reasons to workout. But if you think about it, exercise does as much for your mind (if not more) than it does for your body.
Stress Relief: A good workout almost melts away any stress and anxiety from the day and leaves you feeling calmer and more relaxed. An increase in serotonin (happy chemical) helps to moderate the brain’s response to stress. Exercise also works as a form of meditation in that you are focusing on the workout and not on your cause for anxiety and stress.
Improved Mood: Exercise triggers endorphins in the brain. These send happy messages to the rest of your body which in turn help you relax and feel good about yourself. Often just knowing you’ve done something good for your body can also put you in a good mood.
Improves Self-Esteem: A good workout is a positive step towards your body – this in itself increases self-confidence and makes you feel good about yourself and your body. Improved self-esteem is a mood enhancer.
Better Sleep: A good night’s sleep is always the magic “pill” to improved mood, better mental focus and a better ability to deal with stress and anxiety. A good workout will more often than not, offer a solid night’s sleep.
Feeling Grounded and “Earthed”: Any outdoor physical activity in fresh air leaves you feeling more connected with the Earth we live in and again is a form of meditation. Activities that allow you to be barefoot help in allowing your mind to feel grounded and at one with nature. Swimming in the ocean can leave you feeling happy, positive and aligned with our planet.
Tips of getting the best out of your workout:
- Choose what makes you happy; dancing or running to some great music can help you feel alive and happy.
- Remember to breathe; concentrate on your breath and make sure you’re taking in enough oxygen. Rhythmic breathing can take you to a form of meditation and relaxation regardless of how intense your workout might be.
- Stretch well before and after; this will help sore muscles, but will also help to calm your mind after a workout and will help to naturally slow down your heart-rate and breathing.
Yoga is an obvious activity that consciously engages the mind and body but you can turn any workout into a mind-body experience depending on how you perceive the workout. If you are working out just to “get it done and out of the way” then you may not achieve that connection so try and enjoy your workout and if you don’t, take up something that you will love.
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