The Surprising Health Benefits of Exercise
29 February 2016
Typically, we tend to see exercise as beneficial primarily for our physical, rather than mental, health.
Losing fat around our midsections and packing on the muscle is what exercise is all about... surely? Well, not entirely. Exercise can also, in a variety of ways, make us happier - and not just when we look at our slimmer bodies in the mirror. Perhaps we should explain further...
Take a leaf from Pharrell's book...
You can be as happy as Pharrell Williams, except without his daft headwear, when you spend time exercising. That's because it releases endorphins, which are responsible for greater happiness and euphoria. Even exercising for just half an hour a few times a week . Exercise can sometimes even treat depression as effectively as antidepressant pills.
A nice zap of better creative thinking
If you're a creative type who likes making a bit of music or working on a novel from time to time, try hitting the gym beforehand to get those artistic juices flowing. A study published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine has shown that, following a decent gym session, creative thinking can be boosted for as long as two hours afterwards. Yes, looks like Pharrell really has been putting in the hours at the gym...
Take inspiration from not only Pharrell, but also Alan Titchmarsh
If you find that indoor exercise boosts your mood, you should try exercising in the great outdoors, too. There are many different outdoor exercises that you can choose from - including rock-climbing, hiking, wild swimming... you can probably already think of a few more. Whichever of these exercises you choose, you could enjoy better self-esteem. Vitamin D from the sun - though you should also remember to slap on the sunscreen in preparation - can also play its part in keeping depressive symptoms at bay.
Exercising can make you smarter, too
Next time you want to try tackling that tricky crossword, we advise getting in some cardiovascular exercise first. That's because, according to studies on mice and men, this kind of exercise can lead to new brain cells and boost the brain's overall performance. Okay, so we can't quite guarantee to place you in the running for a Nobel Prize - but, by spending time at one of , you could definitely realise meaningful enhancements in your mental abilities.