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The Cognitive, Emotional and Physical Benefits of Exercising

Exercise changes the way you think, changes the way you feel, and changes the way you perform. If you want to live your best life, exercise needs to be a part of it. You’ll think better, feel better and do better for longer with the right kind of exercise in your life. When it comes to exercising, there are a few things worth highlighting.

Exercising sharpens your mind and strengthens your discipline

Many studies show a strong link between exercise and cognitive performance. Click here for one such study. Specific areas of cognitive performance where you will feel an improvement include:

  • Attention and focus
  • Long and short-term memory
  • Anticipation and pattern recognition
  • Decision-making and problem solving
  • Emotional self-regulation
  • Inhibition

And those aren’t just short term, hormonal effects. Studies like this one show that exercise induces structural changes in the brain! There is evidence that exercise helps grow and protect neurons and the connections between them. Exercise keeps your brain improving and developing on a physical level! It’s not just a quick feel-good solution, consistent exercise leads to long term physiological changes in your brain. You can get keep getting sharper as you keep getting older.

Exercise improves your emotional state and emotional intelligence

It’s not news to say that exercise reduces stress, anxiety and depression. It’s incredibly obvious that exercise is a healthier mood regulator than alcohol, drugs or smoking.  Not to mention it boosts confidence and self-esteem.

What is interesting is that using exercise to regulate mood relates significantly to emotional intelligence (as per this study), and all the benefits that it brings.

Here’s another tidbit from the sports medicine journal. “Evidence from studies, involving clinical samples, indicates that the psychological benefits associated with exercise are comparable to gains found with standard forms of psychotherapy”. It’s almost a cliche to say that exercise is therapy. It looks like it’s literally true.

According to this study, your subjective quality of life experience improves, regardless of whether weight is actually lost or not.

So to sum that up, exercising improves your emotional state and emotional intelligence. It is as effective as standard forms of psychotherapy and improves your quality of life. All of that for only 2 – 3 hours per week.

Exercise improves your physical health and is vital for longevity

“Importantly, our findings debunk the assumption that ageing automatically makes us more frail.”(source)

Exercise up-regulates the anti-oxidant system, stimulates the oxidative repair system, improves cell function and improves cell repair.

What that means is, “the results showed that those who have exercised regularly have defied the ageing process, having the immunity, muscle mass, and cholesterol levels of a young person.” (source)

Some of the benefits include having the immune system, testosterone levels and body fat of a young person. It’s not just about living longer, it’s about living longer well. And if you want to do that, you better get used to a lifetime commitment to exercise.

Don’t Over-Exercise!

That said, it’s important not to over-exercise. Otherwise, all the cognitive, emotional and physical benefits are replaced by worsened problems in those areas. You don’t need to commit to training every single day. “Dosage” is important. Working with an experienced trainer who isn’t just AMRAPping you (As Many Reps As Possible), is vital if you don’t want to burn out and waste all the potential benefits. A good trainer’s priority is his client’s health. If you are advised to “train as often as possible”, you may want to rethink the quality of your trainer and your decision to work with them.

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