Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Benefits of Exercise on the Mind, Body and Skin

We all know how important regular exercise is for our overall health. Today I'm going to touch on some of the main benefits to our mind, our bodies, and our skin. Just in case you forgot, or didn't know about one or two benefits that may ultimately be the ones that finally give you the get go!

First lets talk about the main, and most commonly known benefits.
Benefits to the body.

Reduced weight

Improved flexibility and strength

Improved immunity

Increased blood circulation and energy

Reduced risk of diseases or heart conditions

In terms of the mind..

Boosts the mood  - when we exercise our body releases endorphins which give a feeling of euphoria and inhibit pain signals. This boosts the mood by making us feel more happy and carefree. 

Clarity of mind - when exercising we are usually focused. Whether that be on keeping our balance as we lift weights, counting our reps or controlling the breath. Whatever the reason, this brings us into the present moment, where we so rarely are, and helps to block out all the other white noise, worries or uncontrollable thoughts we may have.

Stress reduction - when stressed our bodies release specific hormones. These are Adrenaline, Cortisol and Nor epinephrine. 
  • Adrenaline is our 'fight or flight' hormone. It provides us with the energy we need to react to a stressful situation. When in this state of perceived danger, caused by stress, we need to use up the extra energy our body now has in order to return to a state of calm. 
  • Cortisol is our 'stress' hormone. It controls fluid balance and blood pressure while in a state of 'fight or flight' to keep our bodies working right. 
  • Nor epinephrine is similar to adrenaline. It is responsible for our awareness. It makes us more alert, focused and responsive in stressful situations. This is important in being able to decide on the right course of action. 
Exercising is great in times of stress as it uses up all the extra energy from these hormones, which if left in the body with no reaction, can have negative effects. Also, as stated above, it calms the mind with the release of endorphins, which can bring us back down to earth after the high alert stress responses.

Better sleep - as we know, exercise can reduce stress and calm the mind, this alone can improve sleep. But it can also help to tire you out, which will make the body shut down easier. Morning or afternoon exercise can make a big difference to your circadian rhythm (sleep cycle).
I have found exercise very helpful to my sleep cycle, as it has given me a routine! I prefer to workout when there are little to no other people in the gym. The best chance of this happening is in the early morning. Waking up earlier, and at the same time everyday, has really helped my sleep cycle as my body is adjusting to that wake time. Even if I don't make it to bed on time, I force myself to get up early anyway, which creates greater demand for sleep that night and helps me fall into a deeper sleep.

Mental Health!

If you could only serve your mental health in one way, I would suggest exercise!
First of all, everything listed above will benefit your mental health. A healthy body creates a healthy mind, and visa versa. 
The main thing exercise does for me, is make me feel good about myself. I have energy, my mind is clear, I feel strong and confident, my body preforms better and I feel alive. I can physically feel all my muscles as they recover and rebuild after doing weights. When doing cardio I can feel my heart beating and my lungs grasping for more air. When stretching I can ease areas of tension and improve my flexibility. That may sound a little uninspiring for some, but for me that is proof that I am more than just what's going on in my mind. That I am also body and spirit and that my body will move and grow and work to keep me alive. Taking a step back, and really feeling all the movements of your body is a great way to get out of your head and stop criticising yourself. Think about everything you and your body have been through, throughout your life. We tend to forget just how amazing we actually are.
Never forget, that you alone are a MIRACLE! 

That brings me to the Skin.

Many of the benefits of exercise on your skin are closely linked to that of the bodily functions. Exercise improves and increases our bodily functions which also affect the skin. But I wanted to talk about them in a little more detail.

Increased blood circulation - this carries more oxygen and nutrients around the body, which are essential for feeding and nourishing skin cells. This increase also helps different systems to detoxify and cleanse, which will show up as clearer, glowing skin!

Increased perspiration - yep, you read it right, SWEATING! Working up a good sweat can help the skin to expel dirt and debris from the pores. Just remember to wash the skin afterwards to get rid of all those dead skin cells.

Increased Collagen Production - working out regularly helps to increase collagen production, which is responsible for keeping the skin firm and supple.

As always, there are a few things to consider before exercising to keep your skin in tip-top shape!

Firstly, if exercising outdoors, be sure to wear sunscreen to protect the skin from UV damage.
If you suffer from rosacea, eczema or psoriasis, exercise can have some negative effects on these conditions.
Rosacea can flare up from increased body temperatures so be sure to workout in a cool environment or apply cool compresses to any affected areas post-workout.
Eczema and Psoriasis can flare up from increased perspiration as the salt levels in our sweat irritate the skin. Try moisturising pre-workout, don't over do it in the shower as you don't want to dry out your skin anymore and if you can, just avoid excessive perspiration!
Rashes can also occur when working out depending on the material of your clothes. My advice is to wear 'moisture-wicking' clothes. These work by drawing moisture away from the body and to the outside of the fabric where it can dry more easily.

Jessica, GymSkin.x

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