Exercise can be kind of tough, especially if your body is not already used to being fit and active (like mine). I am not overweight, I am not especially lazy, I am just fluffy and don’t really like to exercise. However, I was finding that I was getting bored during lunch at work and while shopping sounded very appealing to me, I couldn’t shop every day because then I’d be poor. I thought instead maybe I could go for some walks as there are some very nice trails by my office and so I began walking an hour every day, which morphed into running 1.5-2 miles every day. It kind of just happened and I don’t even like to run. The trail I found was gorgeous, around a lagoon that leads onto the beach and runs into the ocean. It’s completely relaxing and freeing with a good playlist going. I have been doing this for about a month now, and I couldn’t figure out why I liked doing it so much willingly. Never once in my life have I ever had a regular exercise regimen besides my high school tennis team, if you can even count that. I began to kind of wonder exactly what about exercise that made me feel so nice. Since I work at a medical and reconstructive surgery practice in New Jersey I asked the doctors I come into contact there and they gave me some pretty funny looks. It was kind of like a “DUH don’t you know?” to which I said “yeah. Just kidding” So instead I Googled it and thankfully enough, one of the nice doctors guessed I was not kidding and sent me a quick email on the chemistry behind exercise. So if you’re in a tough spot and don’t really feel like running, maybe running might be just what you need so read on and I’ll tell you why.
Amazing! Exercise controls your weight!
Of course, we all knew this already, was just checking.. but seriously, exercise helps prevent weight gain and helps maintain weight loss.
Exercise lifts depression.
Exercise may be the last thing you’d want to do when you’re down in the dumps, but actually it gives you an emotional lift. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that can leave you happier and more relaxed. The added effect is that you also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise which boosts your confidence and your self-esteem. By burning off 350 calories three times a week through sweat-inducing exercise can reduce symptoms of depression about as effectively as anti-depressants. Research suggests that this is because exercise appears to stimulate the growth of neurons in the brain regions that are damaged by depression.
Stress Kills. Go Exercise.
Exercise certainly can reverse the detrimental effects of stress. Stress seems like such a common everyday occurrence and it is but it is also deathly. Too much stress in your life can lead to so many different unwanted effects such as losing sleep and weight gain. However, just exercising for 30 minutes can blow off tension by increasing levels of calming brain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Exercise works on a cellular level to reverse stress’s toll on our aging process. According to a 2010 study from the University of California- San Francisco, researchers found that women who were significantly stressed-out that exercised vigorously for an average of 45 minutes over a three day period had cells that showered fewer signs of aging compared to women who were stressed and inactive. You heard it, exercise reduces stress and has anti-aging benefits.
In a mind- bind? Go dance.
I wish I knew this in college; exercise improves learning. What? Exercise increases the levels of a lot of necessary chemicals in our brain especially ones called growth factors. These growth factors actually help make new brain cells and establish new connections between brain cells to help us learn. What’s even more interesting is that complicated activities such as a dance class or playing tennis will provide the biggest brain boost. Complicated activities such as tennis and dancing forces you to coordinate brain functions with body movements. Because of this, like muscles, you are stressing your brain cells to get them to grow. Complicated activities will also improve your capacity to learn by enhancing your concentration skills and your attention skills.
The “Runner’s High”.
Runners don’t run behind a bush to light one but instead they get a natural high, which is better anyway. The Runner’s high comes into effect when your body is doing some serious high-intensity workout. Researchers suggest sprint bursts through interval training. If you can run, bike, or swim as fast as possible for 30-40 seconds then reduce your speed to a gentle normal pace for 5 minutes before sprinting again for a total or 5 sprints you will really feel pretty and shiny for the rest of the day.
Exercise keeps your brain fit.
As you can notice, there is a huge connection between exercise and your brain. Not only can exercise keep your body fit but it also keeps your brain fit even through mild activity such as a leisurely walk. These types of activity can reduce memory loss and keeping skills like vocabulary retrieval strong. In a 2011 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Canadian researchers analyzed the energy expenditure and cognitive functioning of elderly adults over the course of two to five years. Most of the participants did not work out; instead their activities included short walks, cooking, gardening, and cleaning. Compared to their still peers, the most active participants scored significantly better on cognitive function tests and showed the least amount of cognitive decline.
Exercise keeps Alzheimer’s at bay.
The Alzheimer’s Research Center says exercise is one of the best weapons against Alzheimer’s. Exercise appears to protect the hippocampus, which governs spatial navigation and memory. Is is one of the first brain regions to succumb to Alzheimer’s-related damage. A study published in the Archives of Neurology suggests that a daily walk or job could lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and even soften its impact once it has begun.
It’s obviously that not only can exercise keep you fit it does amazing things for your mental health. Sometimes surgery is necessary for weight loss in very severe cases and that’s okay, bariatric surgery exists because some people need it because moving is not plausible. Some people use cosmetic surgery to complement their body such as getting a tummy tuck when excess skin becomes a health problem, again in severe cases. Men who have lost significant weight can become victims of gynecomastia (male breasts); this can definitely be an issue that will lower self-esteem. Cosmetic surgery procedures such as breast reduction and liposuction can eliminate this problem. Cosmetic surgery does not necessarily have to be a bad thing and it can help many people. Nevertheless, the ultimate goal is living a happy and healthy life and exercise is proven to help achieve that goal. However cliché this may be, finding out all of this kind of makes me want to exercise more and not just run but weight-lifting, which I have also never done in my life. We’ll see how that goes.
Jen works for a medical reconstructive and cosmetic surgery center in New Jersey. She has two kittens and loves to write about all things beauty, women, health and fitness! She spends her days outside and at the center where she learns as much as she can from the board certified surgeons. This plastic surgery center specializes in not only body surgery such as post-bariatric surgery, liposuction and breast augmentations but also facial plastic surgery such as rhinoplasty.