We hear it so often that exercise is an essential element of leading a healthy lifestyle, along with eating a healthy well balanced diet, yet so many of us don’t actually heed the medical advice. Or at least if we do, we find it hard to maintain regular exercise, but why?
The downside to physical goals
Well, one of the key focuses and motivations for many people with exercise are the obvious physical and aesthetic benefits and goals, such as losing weight and toning up. While these can be powerful motivators, whether you’re running, weightlifting, swimming or killing your abs on TRX, they can also have the opposite effect, as one aspect many people forget to take into consideration is these goals can take a long time to achieve.
This is perhaps why many new fitness regimes, regardless of the level you’re starting at, are often doomed to failure before they even get started. Without quick physical gains, many of us feel disheartened, to the point of quitting and starting over once again.
Quick short-term gains are the way forward
There are plenty of other short-term benefits to exercise that you may not even be aware of. They may not be visible when you look in the mirror or help you drop a dress size right away, but they can be equally as powerful. Physical activity has been scientifically proven to improve self-esteem, moods, clarity and focus while reducing anxiety, depression and stress, which combined can boost motivation to keep exercising and improving your general mental well-being.
Institutions such as The Mental Health Foundation are big advocates for using exercise, promoting the positive effects it can have to improve mental health as well as general physical well-being. Therefore by focusing on the mental gains in the short term, you are giving yourself a better chance of keeping up with regular exercise, which makes actually achieving your physical and aesthetic goals very likely.
Although the effects of exercise on mental health may not be fully understood, it is well documented that during exercise the body produces endorphins, which interacts with the brain’s receptors to increase our pain thresholds, as well as triggering positive feelings. This helps to reduce anxiety and stress and can even help improve sleep, which has been cited by WebMD, as also contributing to reducing the effects of depression.
Short term motivators will lead to long term results
This is exactly why, using your mental health and happiness as a short term motivator will go a long way in ensuring you also reach your long-term goals through exercise. Having that instant boost of happiness and energy from exercise, will inevitably help keep you on track and work towards you feeling positive and motivated in general. There’s no need to wait months to see the effects, every time you exercise you can feel mentally empowered, as well as physically fitter. Keep it up!