We get it. Trying to be healthy, happy, and productive at the same time seems too much. However, there's no need to stress out. Reaching peak performance in all areas of life isn't as tricky as you think.
All it takes is to change up one aspect, such as your fitness routine. A short walk at the park, or a few minutes of following a workout video, can give unexpected results. Once you step up your fitness game, it starts a domino effect. Other aspects, such as your well-being, will level up as well.
It's not only about reducing your waistline. It's also about becoming the best version of yourself. Here's a detailed breakdown of how physical fitness improves the quality of your life.
How Physical Fitness Links to Mental Health
Your mental state is as vital as your physical health. After all, how will you function if your mind isn't at the right place? Here's how exercise can simultaneously help with your body and mind.
Massive Boost for Your Mental Fitness
When people say "fitness," the first image popping up is pin-thin models working out. While it looks admirable (for some), fitness is more than achieving the "perfect" shape or following unrealistic body goals.
The moment you choose to be active, you're also choosing to stabilize your mental health. It's a complete life-changer. The more fit and healthy you are, the more you can heal mentally.
For instance, a South Korean study observed women with depression and their response to exercise. As it turns out, working out does work. Specific types of exercise, such as flexibility routines, reduced the symptoms of depression. It also prevented high-stress levels and suicidal ideation.
Another great example is the effect of exercise on ADHD.
In a 2020 study, people with ADHD found it easier to focus post-workout. They could also manage their symptoms better. How is this possible? Because exercise causes the brain to release more dopamine and serotonin.
These "happy hormones" are responsible for uplifting moods and improving attention span. As you work out, your brain sends positive signals throughout your system. If you want the same effects, a solid exercise program for ADHD patients is 30 minutes a day, at least 4 times a week.
Lastly, we all know that many people use exercise as their physical therapy. However, it can also help in someone's mental recovery.
Therapists often recommend exercise for those experiencing PTSD and other types of trauma. It's part of their rehabilitation process. With moderate to high-intensity workouts, they'll gradually feel more in control of their mind and body.
Peak Performance at Work
Speaking of mental health, many people have already hit the pandemic wall. And it's a natural reaction considering how 2020 went. You can't help but feel tired, demotivated, and a little cabin fever-ish.
In times like this, how do you break out of the slump? How do you become productive again? According to science, you should start by working out.
By establishing an exercise routine, you'll gain the following benefits.
- Your energy levels will increase.
- You get less tired by inconsequential things.
- You feel more ready for work.
When you exercise, you're getting into an active mindset. It allows you to release tension and focus on yourself. Eventually, it'll power you up for a long day at work. Research shows that physical exercise combined with a balanced diet is excellent for office workers.
Being active takes your mental acuity to the next level. As you work out, your memory skills will be sharp, and you can learn new things at a quick pace. Fit employees are also more likely to show up at work everyday.
With these health benefits, it's no wonder why many people exercise before and during their work hours. It's not only a weekend hobby. It's a vital part of work performance. If you're enduring a mental block, try activating your creative juices through working out.
How Physical Fitness Affects Emotional Health
Another aspect you should prioritize is your emotional health. It affects almost everything you do in life. As you stretch and move your limbs, here's how exercise can be your tool for managing emotions.
Emotions play an integral part in daily life. When you go about your day, your actions and reactions will depend on how you're feeling. If you can't control your emotions, you're bound to display unexpected behavior. Examples are extreme mood swings, rapid outbursts of anger, and disruptive actions.
A great way to manage your emotions is through physical exercise. Whether you're going for a light or intense routine, working out is a tried-and-tested stress reliever. As an example, medical interventions based on physical activity were proven to improve the mood states of troubled teenagers.
A 2020 analysis also suggested that participating in team sports, such as volleyball, reduces aggression. Even if it's competitive, physical signs of hostility are less likely to occur. Instead, athletes usually practice self-control, empathy, and friendly competition.
As you move forward in your workout routine, you'll notice the difference in your emotional responses. You'll feel more calm and rational. In fact, five minutes into a workout and you're guaranteed to feel less anxious for the day.
Positive Outlook in Life
Have you ever exercised in the morning? How did it affect your entire day? For the most part, being active can boost your mood at the start of the day.
After a round of exercise, your brain produces more endorphins. These "happy chemicals" lead to an energized state of mind. According to research, aerobic routines and balance training are effective in increasing happiness.
The timing is also an essential factor. If you're always on-the-go, then you can choose to work out anytime. There's no pressure. However, take note that the ideal time for working out is in the morning.
Exercising in the morning is a great pick-me-up when you're feeling grumpy. It also lowers more of your blood pressure, compared to later sessions. Lastly, morning workouts provide the right amount of energy and help you sleep better at night.
If you're not a big fan of intense training at dawn, then you can opt for light exercises. For instance, you can go walking instead. A light stroll around the park or neighborhood can do you a world of good. In an observational study, people who walked daily have a better outlook on life, rather than those who don't.
How Physical Fitness Helps Your Social Life
Many people dismiss the importance of socializing, but it contributes a lot. When you have a close support system, you feel more happy and stable. The following segment shall delve more into how exercise improves your social health.
Are you looking for a confidence booster? Try working up a sweat every once in a while, and see how it makes you feel afterward.
As you take control of your fitness and health, you become more sure of yourself. Motivation rises as you see the results of working out in your life. Ultimately, your self-esteem and body image will improve.
Physical exercise develops your confidence. Aside from enhancing the way you move and think, it builds up your character. When you're physically active, you become more adaptable, self-sufficient and can take the lead when necessary.
There's a clear correlation between fitness and leadership skills. In particular, a comparison study suggested that senior-level executives who work out regularly have positive reputations. They usually receive high praises in the office, compared to those with an unhealthy lifestyle.
Working out is also a chance to expand your social network. Whether offline or online, there are fitness programs and communities you can join. You'll meet other like-minded people and get inspired to stick to a fitness regimen together.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Have you ever heard of the Kohler Effect? It happens when no one wants to be the weak link in a group. When you get tired, someone else will inspire you to continue. The result? Everyone's ready and pumped up for the workouts.
There's indeed strength in numbers. When you train with a partner or a group, it becomes a feedback loop of motivation. As you try your best, other people are doing the same. It also keeps you accountable for your fitness goals.
Exercise can level up your social health and make you happier for the future. To attain these social benefits, check out the local fitness programs in your community. You can also join online discussion groups. It's simple, free, and accessible.
Common Challenges in Working Out
Now that you know all of the benefits, how do you include fitness in your daily routine? Here's some advice on how to overcome common barriers to achieving fitness.
I'm Too Busy
When you have too much on your plate, there's no time for fitness. It turns into an excuse. You'll probably say you're too busy, or there are more important things on your daily plan.
To change this, put your health first before anything else. Make time for it on your schedule, and treat it as an actual appointment. When you really commit to working out, other priorities will follow.
You can also insert exercise breaks at work. Take a short walk, stretch it out, or do some yoga in the afternoon. In this way, you're getting fit and productive at the same time.
If the location allows you, transform daily tasks into a workout session. For example, try taking the staircase instead of the elevator. You can also opt for walking and cycling, instead of driving a car.
I'm Too Tired After Work
No energy for a workout session? Exercise in the morning instead.
While it might seem tiring at first, morning workouts are great for boosting energy. Free up at least 30 minutes in your schedule, and get moving. Some people multitask. They go for a brisk walk while listening to podcasts related to their work..
However, if you prefer to stay inside, you can follow an exercise video instead. With at least 30 minutes, you can gain the health benefits of working out.
I Can't Afford the Gym or Any Equipment
As the old proverb goes, "when there's a will, there's a way." There are a lot of exercises that use minimal to zero equipment:
- Fartlek training
- Jumping rope
- Aerobic exercise
- Dance workouts, like Zumba
- Calisthenics or bodyweight exercise
- HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)
If you can't go to the gym, repurpose household items for equipment. For instance, you can lift water jugs and rice bags in place of dumbbells. If you need a workout bench, use a dining chair instead. There are a lot of creative ways to get fit without leaving the safety of your home.
It's Too Boring
Sometimes, it's about finding suitable activities. When you do the same thing every single day, it gets boring fast. For this reason, you should opt for variety in your workout routine. For example, you can do strength training one day, then Pilates or yoga the next.
I'm Feeling Lazy and Unmotivated
Let's admit it. Most of the time, sticking to a fitness routine is the biggest challenge. It can be hard to stay consistent. To ease this hassle, you have to set realistic expectations.
Start with small steps, and don't bite off more than you can chew. If you can only accomplish a specific exercise today, that's fine. You can work your way up gradually. It's also best if you plan your workout routine based on when you feel the most energetic.
My Family and Friends Don't Support My Goals
There's nothing more disheartening when your loved ones don't support your goals. However, all hope is not lost. In this kind of situation, there are a few steps you can take.
The first is to initiate the conversation. Explain why you're interested in fitness and how it can benefit you and others. You can also invite them to work out with you. A morning jog, or a short cycling session, can be your chance to bond together.
If they’re not really interested, then that’s okay. You can't control what people think. At the end of discussion, ask them to at least respect your ambitions.
You can also try befriending new people who are physically active. Join a fitness group, or meet up with a workout buddy. When your social circle doesn't back you up, surround yourself with people who will.
It Makes Me Self-Conscious
If there's one thing you should integrate into your fitness journey, it's this statement:
Don't do it for others, do it for yourself.
Most people in the gym practice this mindset. They know what it's like to start from zero, and they respect those who put in the work. As you sweat it out at the gym, you’ll realize that no one’s judging you for wanting to get fit.
If you're really uncomfortable working out with a group, go solo for now. Focus on your progress. You can also go for exercise videos, fitness games, or build a home gym.
Think about how exercise makes you feel, instead of how you look like. With every rep, you're becoming healthier and happier than before. Also, don't forget to be kind to yourself, and celebrate your fitness wins. Remember: it’s vital to treat yourself once in a while.
There are No Excuses for Your Health
With the wide range of health benefits you can gain, it's never too late to work out. Whenever you feel demotivated, slow down and evaluate your priorities.
Do you want to be healthy, or do you wait and feel the consequences later? The decision is all up to you.
As you get into working out, it will turn into a hobby - a routine. According to the American Health Association, it's best to be active for at least 150 minutes. If you divide that time, it means you should exercise 3 times a week.
However, there's no pressure. You CAN start slow.
After all, a little exercise is better than none. Even the greatest Olympic athletes began with baby steps. Try to work out once a week, then gradually up the ante. You can also get a workout buddy or join a fitness group for inspiration.
Since we're all stuck at home, it's up to us to take care of ourselves. And one of the excellent ways to do that is through physical exercise. With one step towards fitness, you can turn things around in your life.
Besides toning your body, it helps you achieve the trifecta of peak performance: mental, emotional, and social fitness. However, what do you think? Do you think physical fitness can really improve other aspects of life? Let us know in the comments.
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