5 psychological benefits of exercise

I don’t know about you, but I find it really hard to fit exercise into my life at the moment.

Before I had Rhys I used to be in the gym several times a week, and would also do workout dvds at home.

But I just don’t feel like I have the time these days.

Although, I’m not sure that’s strictly true.  

I think it’s more that I don’t quite have the motivation to make the time for formal exercise at the moment.

I know it’s good for me physically, but that knowledge still isn’t quite enough to get me to do it!

What might get me moving though, is realising how much of an impact exercise can have on our psychological well-being.

Here are 5 psychological benefits of doing some exercise:

5-psychological-benefits-of-exercise1.  Exercise keeps our minds sharp as we get older.

Now, I’m only in my 30s, but I’m already aware that my brain isn’t as quick as it used to be.  And I don’t like the idea of my cognitive abilities going downhill any more than they already have thanks to baby brain!  So the fact that exercise has been found to improve cognitive function is a pretty good incentive to start moving more.  And this will get more and more important as I get older, as studies have shown that people who don’t do exercise to work on their cardiovascular fitness are up to 8 times more likely to develop dementia than people who do exercise.

2.  Exercise helps with anxiety and stress.

Now, I think we all know that exercise is a great stress-reliever.  But I wasn’t aware that it can be really helpful in dealing with anxiety too.  I have a problem with ocd and ‘checking’ and I’m pretty sure anxiety is a big part of that.  And I think a lot of parents live with a fair bit of anxiety with trying to juggle everything in their busy lives.  What we need to be doing then, is getting some aerobic activity in on a regular basis.  Studies have shown that this type of activity can reduce anxiety as well as our sensitivity to stress.  It might even help us overcome our anxiety all together.

3.  Exercise makes us more creative.

This one is pretty interesting to me, and is definitely a good incentive to start exercising.  Well, I can’t be the only blogger out there to suffer from writer’s block now and then!  A study by Steinberg et all in 1997 found that people who did an aerobic workout showed an increase in creative thinking.  So a brisk walk in the park really might get the creative juices flowing next time I’m stuck for something to blog about!

4.  Exercise helps us focus and pay attention.

One of the other things I struggle with at times is keeping my focus on one particular activity.  And I know this is something I need to work on if I want to be more productive with my time.  And interestingly enough, psychologists believe that getting regular exercise can improve connections between the cerebellum and the prefrontal cortex.  These connections can help to increase our ability to focus and pay attention, as the prefrontal cortex is involved in tasks that involve organization and attention.

5.  Exercise helps us sleep better.

This is a big reason for me to get more exercise.  Both my children are sleeping pretty well at the moment, but I’m still up with one or the other of them at least once a night.  And I often wake up feeling like my night has been really quite disturbed.  So knowing that I could help improve the quality of the sleep I do get is a pretty good incentive to start exercising more.  Although, it seems like I’d have to really step up my exercise regime for this to work.  A study was carried out with a group of young people and found that the participants who exercised vigorously in the evening fell asleep more quickly, woke up less in the night and slept better than those who either worked out less vigorously or didn’t work out at all.


So there you have it. 

5 pretty good reasons to take a look at my week and see where I can fit some exercise in.

I’m already trying to get 10,000 steps in every day, thanks to my fitbit.  But I need to start getting a couple of actual workouts in I think.  Either by digging out my old workout dvds or by using an online service like Hey Workout, which I tried out earlier in the year.  My full review of that will be up on the blog soon so do keep an eye out for it.

So what about you?  Do you exercise regularly?  What are your reasons for working out, or for not working out?!  Please do leave me a comment and let me know.


Mr and Mrs T Plus Three
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
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