5 benefits of exercise couple running down trail

5 Little Known Benefits of Exercise

Did you start your day with a workout? If you did, you probably found it easier to stay focused at school or work today. If you didn't, that’s okay.

Many individuals exercise during the afternoon because their morning schedules are too chaotic.

When you do exercise consistently, it can be difficult to stay motivated. After all, not everyone sees the benefits of exercising – at first. It’s a process that takes time. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get results quickly.

Most people know that exercise can improve your physical condition and boost your mood, but did you know that physical activity can encourage creative thinking, too? In this article, we’ll identify five of the lesser-known benefits of exercise.

1. Improves Self-Confidence

Getting in better shape can make a person feel better about themselves. Beyond the typical “look good, feel good” mantra, the simple act of exercising can improve self-confidence. Dramatic weight loss or muscle definition is not required for your confidence to improve. 

Regardless of weight, size, or shape, even a small amount of exercise can improve the way you see yourself in the mirror. 

Additionally, working out can provide you with a sense of accomplishment. Next time you get your body moving, try tracking your mile time or taking note of the weight you lift in the gym. Tracking your progress not only helps display your progress, but it can show that you can overcome your perceived limits with consistent effort, boosting your confidence.

2. Stimulates Cognitive Function

Exercise is ideal for all ages – not only those in their prime looking to bulk up at the gym. Physical activity sharpens memory, which is why it's so essential for children to get exercise; it helps stimulate their ability to learn. Improving memory is important for adults, too, especially when in school, learning a new language, working, or even managing everyday tasks like maintaining a hectic schedule. 

Exercise also helps with healthy brain aging, since physical activity increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Developing exercise habits when you are young can significantly impact your brain’s health.

As exercise improves your overall cognitive health, it also better equips you to handle life’s challenges. Sometimes, unexpected trials come our way. Being in physical shape puts our bodies in a healthy emotional state to cope with these challenges.

3. Encourages Creative Thinking

Need a creative boost? Do a heart-pumping workout, stimulating your brain and encouraging the creative juices to flow for a couple of hours. This is great for artists, entrepreneurs, and writers.

If you find yourself stuck in a creative rut, go for a run. Increase the effect by exercising outdoors. The fresh air and scenery of a run around the block or on a trail can trigger a burst of creativity. The trees and wildlife you hear, smell, and see will trigger creative inspiration. Though, exercise can help clear your mind without going outside as well.

Be sure to bring some notecards or text yourself your inspirations!

4. Helps with Relaxation and Anxiety

Physical activity releases chemicals that calm nerves, making people feel happier. If you experience anxiety, you should consider aerobic exercises, like running on the track, cycling, or a high-intensity dance class. 

This level of cardio can significantly reduce anxiety. 

Stress comes in many forms, but it is often the reason why people are unable to sleep at night. That is why working out helps the body to relax.

Exercise can not only make you tired physically, but it releases stress-relieving endorphins, putting you into a more relaxed state to get a good night’s sleep. (Don’t go hard too close to bedtime, however, or you’ll be alert and energized when you don’t want to be.) Everybody is different, so pay attention to what works best for you.

5. Fights Addiction (and makes you feel good)

The brain releases dopamine in response to many forms of pleasure. This release makes people feel good, at least for a short period. Many people get addicted to this feeling when using drugs or alcohol – the brain begins to associate the good feeling with the substance. 

A pivotal part of addiction recovery is replacing the drug with a habit of exercise. Physical activity can release dopamine that effectively redirects the brain from craving the drug, which helps people recover from addictions because they find a new source of dopamine.

As you can see, there are many benefits to working out -- beyond just getting more fit and losing weight. From improving self-esteem to encouraging relaxation, exercise does more for your body than you may have realized. If you don’t already have a physical activity habit, consider incorporating it into your daily routine. And be sure to pair MANTRA Labs’ GO with your next workout for maximum fuel and recovery.