Physical Fitness - Benefits of physical activity and exercise on the mind
Physical activity and exercise are beneficial to the mind as well as the body. They help improve a person's health and overall outlook on life. In order to feel the best, have more energy, and stay healthy, a person should do something active at least three times a week. The great thing about physical activity and exercise is that it doesn't matter what a person does as long as it raises the heart rate for a certain period of time (twenty to thirty minutes is good); it is something one enjoys; and it is safe. This means that a person can bike, run, swim, or in-line skate, and each will help benefit the mind. Specifically, a person will experience a natural high and develop the ability to better handle emotions and changes in life.
Endorphins: The Natural High
When a person is physically active or exercises for a certain period of time—about 20 minutes or longer—the body releases endorphins, proteins in the brain that act as the body's natural pain reliever. When endorphins are released, a person may experience a feeling of euphoria. Many people enjoy this feeling and look forward to the natural high they get from keeping physically fit.
EXERCISE IS FOR EVERYONE
Exercise benefits people of all ages. In addition, exercise is often more fun when done with friends or family. Being active with parents or grandparents is not just a great way to stay healthy, but it can be a time to bond with loved ones. Knowing that regular physical activity and exercise offer great benefits to aging adults is a good reason to make exercise a family affair. Muscle-strengthening activities reduce the risk of falling and fracturing bones. Increased activity equals increased bone strength, even in adults over ninety years old! As a person ages, physical activity can also decrease pain in joints from arthritis (a disease that causes inflammation of the joints).
Concentration is important for learning and understanding new things and being able to perform well in all aspects of life. Being physically active and exercising can help improve concentration. This means that a person will be able to be more focused and perform better in class or during other activities. Staying physically fit has also been found to help people maintain memory longer in their lives. As people get older, their memory skills can deteriorate, and physical activity and exercise can help ward off this effect for some time.
Lift the Blues and Lower Anxiety
Many people suffer from depression and anxiety. A person may feel just depressed or anxious or experience both depression and anxiety at the same time. Depression can cause people to feel sad, tired, and/or hopeless, and suffer from low self-esteem. Anxiety causes feelings of panic. Both conditions can be treated by medication. But researchers have found that in mild cases, physical activity and exercise can help relieve feelings of depression and lower a person's anxiety.
Handle Stress Better
Stress is a normal part of every person's life. It is actually necessary to have some stress in life. Otherwise, a person would have no motivation for self-improvement or hard work. However, too much stress can cause many health problems. Some symptoms of stress include anxiety, high blood pressure, irritability, tense muscles, headaches, stomachaches, and lower resistance to illness. Physical activity and exercise, especially noncompetitive activity, help to manage stress. They give a person the opportunity to feel calmer and more alert, which can help a person work through the things that are causing the stress. They also boost the immune system, so resistance to illness will increase.
Build Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
Low self-confidence and self-esteem can cause a person to engage in harmful behaviors, such as self-mutilation, drug addiction, or disordered eating. They may also seek acceptance from others in destructive ways, such as having sex before they're ready or drinking alcohol to excess. People with high self-confidence and self-esteem are usually happy with themselves, outgoing, and positive. They take pride in accomplishments and are able to stand up for themselves. They are not afraid of taking on new challenges and are not afraid of failure. Researchers have found that physical activity and exercise can increase self-confidence and self-esteem.
ACCORDING TO THE WOMEN'S SPORTS FOUNDATION, TEENS THAT PLAY SPORTS USUALLY DO NOT ENGAGE IN SEXUAL ACTIVITY UNTIL LATER IN LIFE AND ARE LESS LIKELY TO USE DRUGS OR BE INVOLVED IN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS THAN TEENS WHO DO NOT PLAY SPORTS. THOSE STUDENTS WHO PLAY SPORTS ARE ALSO MORE LIKELY TO GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE.
Feel Calmer and Sleep Soundly
While physical activity and exercise can make people feel more alert during the day, they also allow people to feel calmer and sleep more soundly. When people are active, their body temperature rises and warms their insides. This soothes the body, like a warm bath, and causes a person to feel calmer. This feeling, along with the lower anxiety and stress and physical benefits of physical activity and exercise, helps a person to sleep soundly at night.