The Magic of Exercise

Christmas has been and gone. You feel as though you have eaten too much. Drank too much. Not moved enough. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.

Its notorious at this time of year to feel a bit down about your physical fitness and appearance. Because we do tend to eat excessively and drink more alcohol than usual. This is just something that happens at Christmas. And even as a fitness professional I wouldn’t say don’t enjoy yourself.

My argument is that we don’t move enough. Calories and Christmas go hand in hand, but the fact that we sit down for most of the day/days over the festive period means that we feel worse. This can lead to you feeling low and lethargic.

Exercise has a massive impact on the brain. I’m sure you’ve heard of endorphins. These are hormones that are produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland within the brain. Their main job is to inhibit and reduce the transmission of pain signals, but they also help to produce a feeling or euphoria. This can help you feel happier instantly, and the effects can, and most probably will, last a while.

These aren’t the only ‘happy’ chemicals released through exercising though. Your body will also produce serotonin, norepinephrine, BDNF and dopamine, the reward chemical. All of which have huge positive benefits for the mind. The bottom line: the combination of these five chemicals will boost your mood and have been proved to help to relieve both anxiety and depression.

Exercise doesn’t just produce more hormones though, it actually helps to reduce the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the body, both of which, in high doses, can cause increased levels of stress. So simply by reducing these, you’ll be able to reduce stress on your brain. It goes without saying that reducing negative chemicals and increasing positive chemicals results in a huge shift towards feeling happier.

Exercise also has a longer lasting impact on the brain, helping to preserve brain function and prevent cognitive decline. Which will strengthen the brain making it less susceptible to negative chemicals and thus making it easier to maintain a happier outlook on life.

So even though we over consume calorie over the festive period, we can counteract this with more exercise. Exercise doesn’t have to mean you run a marathon. Far from it. It could be something as simple as a walk or job. A bike ride. Even a swim. Something to start helping the release of these hormones and start alleviating stress levels.

Try going for a walk, and I can guarantee you you’ll feel better almost instantly.

So get moving. Start burning off those calories. And feel better in the process.