The health benefits of regular exercise are really hard to ignore. According to a study done by Time magazine “5.3 of the 57 million deaths worldwide in 2008 could be attributed to inactivity. If physical inactivity could be reduced by just 10% it could prevent 533,000 deaths a year. If reduced by 25%… 1.3 million deaths could be prevented.” Other than prolonging your life expectancy, there are many other benefits to exercise, physical and mental alike.
There are obviously the physical benefits which include getting better sleep, combating health conditions and disease, heart disease for example, which is the number 1 leading cause of death in the US, weight management, and of course, muscles. Being active boosts high density lipoprotein or good cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides, or bad fat in your body.
This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases and multiple other health problems including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s. Exercising regularly helps with weight management because even when not exercising your body is still recovering from your exercise, which means that your body is still burning calories hours after, even if you are sleeping. This is a part of the reason why bodybuilders and pro athletes must take in so many calories per day and eat so many meals.
The Mental Benefits of Exercise
There is actually more mental benefits to regular physical activity than there is physical even if they aren’t as easy to see. A sound mind in a sound body. Physical activity is good for your brain, it boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning. Exercise also increases confidence, relieves stress, alleviates anxiety, boosts brainpower, sharpens memory, helps control addiction, boosts energy, inspires and motivates yourself and other people, improves mood, and increases endorphin production, which are the happy/feel good chemicals in your brain.
The number one thing people report when starting an exercise routine is an energy boost, feeling better, and better sleep. Exercising is a natural stress and anxiety reliever- As I said before, the brain releases feel good chemicals which immediately relax you and help to get rid of unwanted stress and anxiety.
Not only will regular exercise and/or physical activity benefit you physically and mentally but it also helps develop your character. It reinforces the virtues of hard work, humility or humbleness, team work if a sport, respect, and failure. Looking back upon my own experience, I can see how my characteristic traits developed and were strengthened from daily exercise and how my physical and mental abilities also progressed.
I have realized that guys notice your “gains” much more than girls and that when you really start to truly lift and work-out for yourself and not to impress other people you put yourself on another level. Not because you are better than anyone else but simply because you aren’t competing against anyone but yourself, striving to be the absolute best that you can be, both mentally and physically where no-one else’s opinion will matter.
I started to notice the multitude of other benefits that came from my exercise when I started focusing on being better than myself than being better than other people. I was fast and strong for my other sports, in particular wrestling and soccer, I was a much better and more well-rounded athlete than before. I never had much confidence but I was more confident inside the classroom and on the field. I believed in myself because every day I was better than I was yesterday. I started to have immense respect for anyone that was exercising, with a full understanding of how difficult it is to start and stay committed.
I realized that in the gym there is no natural born talent. The only thing that matters is how hard you work to achieve whatever goal you are heading towards. And hard work isn’t something you’re born with, it’s something that anyone and everyone can do. And in today’s generation, hard work separates the talented, from the champions, the true greats. Arnold always said that out of everything you can do, working your butt off is the most important.
I also learned from the gym and other sports that no matter how good, big, fast, strong, or toned you are there will always be someone better. Someone better, bigger, more toned, faster, or stronger. It humbled me and showed me that I am in competition with no one but myself.
The best thing about these benefits is that anyone can have them, yet not everyone chooses to do so, for one reason or another which also make you different, unique. People judge fitness fanatics, athletes, gym rats, weightlifters, and bodybuilders without fully understanding the limitless multitude of health benefits. And exercise isn’t just going to the gym and lifting weights, it can be anything physically demanding.
From running or boxing to tennis or volleyball. Anything that helps keep you in shape will in turn help keep your mind sharp and healthy along with your body. In conclusion, from my personal experience and studies, I believe strongly in the character development, mental, and physical benefits of regular exercise.