The importance of exercise for a healthy body and well-being

Exercise is essential for well-being on so many levels, starting with the simplest - it’s what the human body is designed to do. For mild depression, physical activity can be as good as an antidepressant or psychological treatment like cognitive behavioural therapy.

Image

There are many reasons why exercise is good for our heads:

  • Exercise stimulates the release of chemicals called endorphins.
  • Physical activity activates certain brain chemicals associated with mood, particularly dopamine and serotonin, which the brain cells use to communicate with each other.
  • Exercise gives you a sense of control over your life. It helps you feel capable, healthy and strong.
  • Exercise helps you sleep. It gives you energy.
  • Exercising outdoors in nature has profound soothing and restorative qualities.
  • Exercise seems to reduce harmful changes in the brain caused by stress.

The benefits of physical activity are also cumulative, so you will notice your well-being improving the more you can commit to a regular daily practice. Again, this can be completely informal – 10 minutes stretching while the dinner cooks, say, or a walk with the dog. Seeing this steady progress in your mood and fitness is hugely motivating and will inspire you to keep going.

Healthy habits start early and regular physical activity can be both empowering and enjoyable. It strengthens us in both mind and body. Young or old, we should make time to get active, to get out of breath, to get gloriously sweaty – and to feel the joy of movement.

If you’re not a fan of gyms, there are plenty of opportunities to incorporate strength training into your everyday life. This could be informal, such as lugging around heavy shopping, children or bottles of water! Or you could buy some equipment to use at home, such as kettlebells, dumbbells, resistance bands and skipping ropes. 

Like healthy eating, exercise is promoted as an unalloyed good, something we should all be aiming for. It’s hard to avoid the constant reminders that we should all be on diets (wrong) and we should all be at the gym (wrong). Exercise is a healthy discipline, but it shouldn’t make you ill. There is a fine line between positive willpower and damaging self-punishment.

However you exercise, it should be a positive choice and it should be enjoyable. Exercise should not become a compulsion. You should be able to choose when to exercise and for how long. You shouldn’t push yourself to exercise through exhaustion or injury. Ignore the messages from society and the media – whatever you hear about exercising five times a week, burning fat, shedding kilos or getting those rock-hard abs, you are an individual.

Ignore the fitness frenzy and listen to your body. Moderation is important, as with food, as with work, as with any other regular routine. Reframe your mental attitude to exercise – instead of punishing and flogging yourself, why not try appreciating yourself? Enjoy what your body can do – instead of finding fault with how it looks – and build on that.

So forget the negative stereotypes and focus on exercise that you enjoy. A stronger body is a fitter, learner, and happier body!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Image
Portree IV51 & London E1
Image
Written by Pasha Cazacu
Portree IV51 & London E1

My goal is to get clients healthy again quickly and easily by diet, supplementation, herbs and testing. I'm here to support you in making meaningful changes to your diet and lifestyle, so you can feel your best and cultivate a healthier relationship with food. My expertise lies in areas such as diso...

Show comments
Image

Find a nutritionist dealing with Nutrition and mental health

All nutrition professionals are verified

All nutrition professionals are verified