The impact of regular exercise on both physical and mental well-being
We all know the health benefits of regular exercise. Those of us who in fact take regular exercise also know the positive impact exercise has on mental well-being. This experience is backed by scientific research.
Countless studies prove that frequent physical exercise - whether in the form of intensive training or just a healthy stroll - is not only beneficial to your condition and your shape, but also to your psychological well-being. It enhances your self-esteem and self-confidence, and therefore your level of happiness. Research indicates that regular exercise improves happiness by 12%.
Even if you hardly take any exercise at all, I am sure you remember how well you felt when you did go for a run, used your bicycle or took a few aerobic classes.
Get yourself addicted to get in shape
It’s tempting for me to advise you to go for a run every morning for at least 30 minutes before you go to work. If you would follow this advice, you will gradually (not immediately!) feel better and better about yourself, until you reach a stage of ‘positive addiction’. This means that you are hooked on your new lifestyle forever and you will do everything it takes to be able to run every morning, even after a late party, a few too many drinks and a lack of sleep.
This is not only caused by the sensation of feeling healthy and being proud about your discipline, and not even by the knowledge that your healthy lifestyle probably reduces the risk of diseases and increases your life expectancy.
There is a more ‘chemical’ explanation to it. When the physical condition of the body is challenged through serious exercise, we are rewarded with the secretion of certain hormones like endorphins, thereby creating a sense of well-being and happiness.
Paradoxically, the pain and troubles aerobic exercise caused in the beginning are responsible for the fact that the majority of people who enthusiastically start a new exercise regime quit after a few tries. The limited numbers of people who have just a little bit more endurance eventually go over the ‘hill’ and after that… they are addicted.
The lesson here for you is: there is light at the end of the tunnel. Do not give up, just go on a little longer, and just fight a little more against your fatigue and the exhaustion you feel. Sooner or later you will feel the big reward: endorphins flow through your head and body to reward you for your stamina and determination to succeed.
Of course, your exercise addiction should not turn into an unhealthy obsession:
My next best advice for lazy people
Since odds are you do not belong to the group that continues harsh exercise until they are addicted, I’d better give you the next best advice: just start to do some easy exercises. Take one step at a time.
Walk to the supermarket instead of using your car just for a change. Take a 30 minutes stroll on the beach. Take your bike and make a short trip in your neighborhood. You will not get the additional reward the hormones would give you when you would go all the way, but at least you can experience the fun of exercise and you will feel good about yourself.
After you have been gradually accustomed to your new, exercise-including lifestyle, I invite you… no, I even urge you to reach for the next level – i.e. the level where regular, exhausting exercise leads to an addictive reward: an enormous sense of well-being and thus a higher level of happiness.