Injuries are all a part of physical exercise; they can happen to the best of us despite taking all the necessary precautions to avoid them from happening. When I was recovering from injury I often experienced extreme swings in moodiness. When I get like this my poor wife hustles me out the door for a good workout. Studies show exercise can have a profound positive effect not only on our physical health but our mental well-being as well. Many people who have suffered from anxiety or stress experience a great sense of relaxation after exercise. The reason is when we exercise our body releases more feel good hormones into our system called oxytocin.
This feeling never escapes me after a great session of exercise. It not only leaves me feeling refreshed but invigorated providing me with mental clarity to get important matters done for the day. In fact, I truly believe one must exercise regularly to perform at their highest level in life. Now I’m not talking solely physical activities but at work as well. With the growing obesity problem in the North America most of the population get an artificial boost through bad food choices such as caffeine or foods with high sugar content, leaving many ready to hit the sack by 2pm in the afternoon.
The American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology found that 40 minutes of aerobic exercise such as running not only improves mental clarity but increases the number of neurons in our brain. This is fascinating since for many years it was believed we didn’t produce anymore neurons by the time we reached adulthood. The other fascinating discovery was these new neurons were being produced in the hippocampus which is responsible for memory. There was also increased blood flow to our frontal lobe which is responsible for clearer thinking, focus, concentration, setting goals and time management.
To further add to this discovery, Harvard researchers found that aerobic exercise can improve the mood of people who suffer from anxiety. They put this to the test by conducting a study with a group of volunteers. About 80 participants were told to watch a sad scene from the movie The Champ.
Afterwards, some were told to run for 30 minutes while the others were told to stretch. The ones who ran recovered more quickly from their feelings of sadness than the ones who just stretched. Pretty interesting I must say, I can honestly say from experience this has been the case for me. I’ve seen many people who relieve their personal troubles by coming to the gym to train for an hour or two. For myself, it allows me an escape from the real world, as if my troubles have melted away. I often say to my wife I am not going to work out, I’m going for therapy. Therapy for my mind, body, and soul.
When my father lost his business and savings, I was often told by my classmates they would see my father everyday 6am in the morning practicing martial arts in the empty parking lot of Kmart. For many years I thought it was solely for his physical fitness but I now know it was more than that. He was clearing his mind for the challenging day ahead. It provided him with the focus and mental clarity to allow him to make the best business choices. It would be hard to argue that since he was able to rise from the ashes of bankruptcy to build a successful business many years later.
So instead of plopping yourself down on the couch to watch TV, opt to go for a nice run. If running is not your thing and I know it’s not my thing, try a spin class, martial arts, or aerobics. Get your heart rate going on a regular basis. Not only will your body be thankful but your business and career as well!