Health Benefits of Physical Activity
1. Increase energy levels
2. Improve well-being
3. Improve emotional state
4. Boost self-esteem
5. Reduce stress and anxiety
6. Improve the quality of sleep
7 Increased resistance to diseases
8 Healthy weight management
9 Improved immune system
10 Better sex life
11 Injury prevention
12 Heart health
13 Bones & joints
14 Stress management
15 Depression reduction
16 Older adults maintain independent living
17 Fight fatigue & increase stamina
18 Build endurance
19 Athletic performance
20 Aid in recovery after surgery, illness, or injury
21 Enhance cognitive function
22 Prevent cancer
23 Lower blood pressure
24 Enhance flexibility
25 Assist with weight loss
26 Decrease joint pain
27 Reduce symptoms of arthritis
28 Cancer survivors improve quality of life
29 Reduced allergy symptoms
30 Healthy pregnancies
31 Improved infant birth weights
32 Weight control in older adults
33 Increase insulin sensitivity
34 Reduced menstrual pain & PMS
35 Enhanced athletic performance
36 Improve balance
37 Reduce lower back pain
38 Assist with osteoporosis management
39 Older adults improved gait
40 Prevent type 2 diabetes
Mental benefits of physical activity:
1. Improved Sleep:
Aerobic workouts help you fall asleep faster. The more fit you are, the better your sleep quality is likely to be. Good sleep facilitates learning and memory consolidation (Kramer et al., 2003) and helps improve attention, decision making, and reaction time.
2. Neurogenesis :
Aerobic exercise induces adult neurogenesis (i.e., it generates new neurons in the hippocampus), which leads to improved memory, mood regulation, stress management, and protection against age-related cognitive decline.
3. Neurotransmitter Release:
Aerobic exercise strengthens synaptic connections between neurons and increases the production of neurotransmitters (e.g., dopamine, serotonin) that boost mood and motivation (Szuhany et al., 2015).
4. Cognitive Flexibility :
Higher fitness levels in older adults are associated with greater cognitive flexibility (Colcombe et al., 2004), which confers improvement during tasks that require multiple mental processes, such as multitasking, reasoning, problem-solving, decision making, planning, etc. Cognitive flexibility also facilitates coping with unpredictable changes in the environment or plans.
5. Improved Attention :
Aerobic workouts heighten your awareness of surroundings by increasing brain activity in attention-related areas, which provides a heightened sense of perception, focus, and cognition.
6. Emotional Resilience:
Aerobic fitness buffers against the deleterious effects of stress on mood by improving serotonin signaling in brain cells (Leproult & Van Cauter, 2010). Higher serotonin levels lend to elevated moods and help manage behavioral responses to stress.
Moreover, aerobic workouts can diminish anxiety-related perceptions of pain (Szuhany et al., 2015)
7. Cognitive Training:
It is crucial to improve your cardiovascular fitness level for optimal mental performance if you are not already very fit.
Simultaneously challenging your body with heavy strength training alone does not yield profound cognitive benefits because maximal strength does not depend on cardiovascular fitness.
8. Better Decision-Making:
Aerobic workouts improve decision-making performance (Hsu et al., 2014), facilitating optimum judgment, impulse control, and complex reasoning abilities.
9. Memory Enhancement :
Aerobic exercise enhances memory consolidation by increasing blood flow to the hippocampus (Burdette et al., 2010). Oxygenated brain cells are critical for fluid cognition and optimal memory recall, especially after periods of mental exertion or stress when blood flow is diverted away from the brain.
Physical activity guidelines:
To gain the mental benefits of exercise, it is recommended that you engage in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity (e.g., brisk walking) or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic exercise.
More may be better for optimal cognitive function during old age: seniors who engage in about 250 to 350 minutes each week of moderate or high-intensity aerobic workouts experience the most significant improvements in memory and processing speed.
Exercise can also provide immediate mental benefits if done acutely before cognitive testing because regular exercise enhances neural connectivity within brain circuits involved in learning and memory.
Working out with weights several times a week also has a positive impact on cognition. In addition, resistance training with weights or resistance bands is an excellent way to build muscle, boost bone density, and improve balance, which reduces the risk of falls and fractures in older adults with osteoporosis.
In addition to building stronger muscles that perform better during everyday activities, lifting weights also strengthens neural pathways between neurons related to movement coordination.
To derive maximal cognitive benefits from strength training, it is necessary to challenge yourself with progressively more excellent resistance as you gain strength from successive workouts.
It is also good to vary your workout routines frequently by alternating between strength training exercises, cardio exercises, yoga sessions, etc. Doing the same activity repeatedly can lead to boredom and decrease adherence rates. However, if you are older and have a limited workout repertoire because of reduced mobility, doing the same exercise is not a bad idea.
Physical activity tips:
1. Make a plan – Write down your workout schedule in advance and set goals for yourself to maximize adherence rates. Setting concrete goals will give you something to look forward to each day, enhancing feelings of self-worth and improving your moods during challenging workouts.
More importantly, by setting realistic goals that align with your fitness level, it is easier to anticipate how much time will be required for therapeutic recovery between workouts so that you can manage potential pain or fatigue accordingly while maximizing progress over time.
2. Get started slowly but progressively – Mental stamina is like physical stamina, in that you need to give your body time to adjust to new physical stresses before you can work out at increasingly demanding intensities without running into problems.
Don’t be discouraged if it takes several days for your muscles and joints to adjust during the first few weeks of workout routines. With consistent workouts, your mind will gradually acclimate until increased energy levels make exercising more enjoyable over time.
3. Keep track of progress – Write down dates and details about each workout session (e.g., duration, distance, resistance). Progress towards fitness goals is measurable and provides additional motivation for sticking with workouts when you experience fatigue or pain relief during restorative periods between exercises.
4. Engage social support – Exercise works better as a social activity. In addition to partnering with family members or friends, participating in group workouts or joining exercise classes at local community centers can enhance motivation levels and help you stick with your exercise routines.
5 . You may also want to consult a fitness trainer who can advise starting new workout regimens and tracking progress over time. Many area fitness and recreation facilities (e.g., YMCA’s) offer discounted rates for first-time visitors, so that is an excellent place to start looking for personal training services if you need extra guidance getting started.
Older people who have mastered a workout routine require more exercise to achieve the same benefits. New research shows that older adults who want to gain the cognitive benefits of practice need to increase their energy expenditure or intensity, which can be done by doing an extra 15 minutes of cardio every day.
It is also important to note that higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with improvements in brain function, including executive control processes related to attention allocation, selective attention (focusing on relevant task-related information), and inhibitory control (monitoring distracting stimuli that could interfere with completing tasks).
By exercising at currently recommended physical activity levels (150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise), older men and women can increase their cognitive abilities to a greater extent than if they did not exercise. However, even just 15 minutes per day of additional high-intensity physical activity can yield significant mental benefits in older adults.
Mental benefits of physical activity:
As we age, we may feel that we can no longer enjoy the activities we wanted when we were younger. However, physical activity is essential at all stages of life, and there are many benefits associated with physical activity in different age groups. Here is a list of mental benefits of physical activity.
1) Improved mood:
Aerobic type exercises such as jogging or brisk walking are effective in combating depression and also anxiety disorder. Also, yoga has a very positive effect on our minds and body.
2) Improved sleep:
One particular study showed that even 10 minutes of exercise was enough for insomnia to reduce the time taken to fall asleep and produce a higher quality sleep. Yoga postures also have a positive effect on our sleep patterns.
3) Improved cognitive function:
Physical activities such as jogging and brisk walking increase blood flow to the brain, improving memory and other cognitive functions. Physical activity has also been associated with a reduced risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in old age.
4) Reduced stress:
Exercise helps reduce stress by releasing chemicals called endorphins – your body’s natural feel-good chemicals – into the bloodstream, which can elevate mood. Yoga is known for its ability to reduce stress by using specific breathing techniques to calm us down while at the same time stretching out muscles that accumulate tension throughout the day. This makes it an ideal form of exercise for when you are feeling stressed.
5) Improved fitness:
Regular exercise will help keep the body fit and healthy; it can also help reduce blood sugar levels, decrease blood pressure, keep bones strong and maintain a good weight. Many different types of physical activity can be done like swimming, power walking, or cycling, all of which possess mental benefits for individuals in other age groups.
6) Maintain independence:
Physical activities such as jogging or brisk walking can improve one’s mood while at the same time keeping our bodies strong enough so we no longer need to rely on others when taking care of ourselves. In addition, participating in physical activities may allow us to perform daily tasks more easily avoid falls due to muscle weakness.
7) Social benefits:
Regular physical activity can help us stay connected with our family and friends by joining a walking group or a sports team. Also, socializing after exercising is another benefit of physical activities – try going for a walk with a friend after your yoga session!
8) Improved self-esteem:
Many people who have achieved their weight loss goals or improved their fitness level due to participating in regular exercise report that the improvements in mood and self-confidence far outweigh any weight loss benefit they experienced from being fitter.
Yoga can also be great for building confidence as it releases endorphins into the body, which helps build up feel-good chemicals which make you more confident about yourself.
9) Regular exercise can help reduce our risk of developing or dying from some major diseases:
This benefit of physical activity is significant as it helps maintain good overall health and should be a key motivator for all those who currently do not exercise.
10) Improved quality of life:
Regular physical activity can help us feel younger, look better, and continue to enjoy the activities we wanted when we were younger. It can also help strengthen our muscles and bones, improve flexibility and balance, boost energy levels and mood, and increase our stamina! When we master a yoga pose such as Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana), we know that we have achieved something remarkable – both physically and mentally.