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How working out will make you stronger mentally

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How is exercise good for your mind?

You know that feeling you get when you sip on a good cup of coffee, the friendly yet firm kick it gives you, arousing you mentally and giving you that extra edge? It is great!

Unfortunately, as we all know, too much of the black stuff is not great for us. It can cause a lot of stress in the body.

What if there was something else that could give you this same kick as coffee, without the negative side effects?

The good news is: there is!

The not so good news is: you have to actually move – it is exercise!

Fitness and productivity just go together. No denying it.

There is no need to break into a cold sweat though. This doesnot mean you need to drop and give me 60 or sign your free time away to train for a triathlon. What it does mean is that exercising regularly is a sure way to relieve stress, enhance mental clarity, empower your mind, energise your body, help you sleep, make you feel calmer and ultimately make you more productive.

Exercise relieves stress and enhances mental clarity.

When you exercise, especially cardio – running, cycling, and swimming – feel good neurotransmitters called endorphins are released in your brain making you feel better and more relaxed.

This super happy hormone also fights against the stress hormone cortisol thus reducing stress is the body.

It is a no brainer really, exercise makes us feel better.

What usually happens when you are stressed? Do you have a cigarette? Some chocolate maybe? Does it take a glass of wine for you to decompress in the evenings? Would it not make more sense if you could relieve this stress in a healthy more constructive way? Exercise can do this. It helps to clear your mind and gives you time to process.

It empowers your mind and energises your body.

When your brain is a mush of ideas, obstacles, problems and questions, there id just no clarity. You will not be surprised to hear me say that exercise can help here too. I actually think this is one of the most significant benefits of exercise.

When I run, sometimes I think, sometimes I do not. The silence and solitude enables me to gain more perspective. It allows me to go within and look for answers or find peace. It is quite often a meditative activity.

It is also a space to think things through, outside the box, with a calmer perspective. Think about it. Concentrating on just what you are doing – running – removes the focus from the stressor.

Concentrating on the movement of your body, your feet on the pavement or the sounds of your breath helps you to remove yourself from your mind and allows you to let go of whatever it is that is causing you stress or pain giving you a fresh viewpoint on things.

We live a lot in the mind; we become our thoughts and the constant traffic of tasks. Imagine getting away from that regularly? How much more focused and in control would you feel?

I had no outlet to manage the stress that I was bringing home after a day/weeks work. My mind was often a wash with a multitude of thoughts and problems with no more ‘head space’ to think things through –  so I took up running and lifting.

While getting fitter was one of my reasons for taking up running and lifting the primary driver was stress management. Running and lifting provided me with that ‘thinking time’. Time without the ‘pollution’ of daily work/life demands.

I am the only person in my head when I am running/exercising, there are no external distractions.

I have lost count of the number of work problems I have solved when out running.

Exercise gives you the mental edge.

We all know that sluggish feeling in the morning. Your body is moving but your mind has not switched on yet. Imagine the impact on your day if you had a dose of endorphins before your morning meetings?

Exercising first thing is daunting, it is tough, but it truly sets you up for a wonderfully effective day. It gives you a positive, fresh outlook and a real head start. Adding exercise to your day means your productivity will increase because you arrive to work energised, focused and more organised than before.

You will be able to think more clearly, your energy levels will be higher throughout the day, you will be less stressed, more creative and better prepared.

Just think about it – you have done a workout, had breakfast and are up and at them, feeling amazing – and all before 9am!

Working out helps improve sleep.

Sleeping better allows you to be more productive, energised and empowers your mind. If you’re the type of person whose sleep is interrupted when stressed or busy, you have probably lay awake on numerous occasions figuring things out in your mind, going over the day, planning for the next.

Lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your mood and your productivity, we all know that feeling. Would it not make more sense to process all of this mind matter during a workout, at a time when you can actually make something of those thoughts?

Regular exercise boosts your self-image.

As you become fitter you feel more confident and enjoy your body more. Your body changes, your muscles firm up; your abs might even make an appearance. You begin to look at yourself differently, you feel good and have more confidence, all of this being great news for your personal life and your libido.

Yep, exercise is proven to boost sex drive, now if that is not a reason to dust off those trainers I do not know what is!

“But I just do not have the time to work out” you say…

I have heard this too many times. My response to this is – If Barack Obama can do it, you can too! His logic is that if he has his daily work out time, the rest of his time will be more productive. Try it.

Do not get me wrong, I know it takes time and planning. But if you have a job you schedule meetings and tasks, why can not exercise be one of these tasks? If you want to live a balanced, healthy life exercise needs to be a major player in it.

It does not have to be a long distance run or anything too strenuous. Start slow and build up, do what is right for you, 20 minutes of exercise can have incredible benefits on your body and mind.

Practical ways to fit exercise into your life:

  • Get up earlier and fit your workout in before work. You have done it for an important meeting so you can absolutely do it for yourself. Getting up earlier is incredibly uplifting; you feel so connected and it gives you an extra edge to seize new opportunities with lots of energy and inspiration. Get into a routine and it will get easier.
  • Schedule a weekly meet with friends or a personl trainer. This becomes routine, something you do weekly like taking out the bins. When you organise to meet someone you are less likely to cancel. You are accountable to someone else which is hugely important when achieving goals.
  • Walk and talk. Are there meetings during your day that you can take outside instead of sitting in a stuffy room? Make your meetings walking meetings. When people are taken out of the usual office environment it gives space for a more relaxed and creative conversation. This is a great way to get not only the blood flowing, but the creative juices too.
  • Exercise at lunch is a fantastic way to get your workout down and energise your afternoon. Rather than feeling lethargic and sluggish after lunch you will feel rejuvenated and recharged. Get your workout in at lunch and free up your evening for personal time to have fun and rest.
  • Work out in work. Lots of companies organise corporate training which really helps to boost morale and productivity. We all know a healthy workforce is a happy one and happy people are more productive.

There’s nothing better than setting yourself a goal of working out and achieving it.

You feel like you can take on the world.

You feel so powerful and invincible afterwards.

This feeling of empowerment and strength that exercise gives transfers into other areas of life without you even realising it, giving you a more productive, positive, healthy life.

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