Welcome Knights! Today we are going to talk about exercise, why it’s good for you, and some fun ways to get started.
Exercise is good for you! It has many health benefits. It helps keep you fit, keeps your heart healthy, and may improve your immune system. In addition, it improves your sleep, can help reduce depression and stress, and improves your memory.
Yes, you read that right: Exercise can help reduce depression, as well as anxiety and stress. But wait, you might be asking, how does that work? Well, scientists aren’t entirely sure about that, but there are a few possible reasons:
- One theory is that exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals in your brain that raise your mood and increase your well-being. So by exercising you are literally raising your mood.
- A similar theory is that exercise boosts the availability of certain neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are released by neurons. Like little tiny messengers, they carry signals to all different parts of the body. Some neurotransmitters, such as serotonin (which regulates mood) and dopamine (which moderates desire and motivation), are decreased by depression. Exercise, on the other hand, increases them.
- Exercise may help alleviate both depression and anxiety by raising your body temperature. That’s right, body temperature. The temperature in some parts of the brain may rise from exercise, which could then cause relaxation and loosen tense muscles.
- By keeping you focused on your movements, exercise distracts you from unpleasant thoughts, taking your mind away from your worries. Less unpleasant thoughts gives your brain a chance to rewire and form new patterns.
- Last but certainly not least, exercise increases the belief that you can in fact begin and complete a task. Depression decreases this belief, making itself even worse and continuing the cycle. If you can manage to complete an exercise, even just a small one, then it actually raises your belief in yourself. Positive thinking!
Now of course, exercise alone isn’t a cure for depression, and it can seem impossible to get started when you’re in the midst of it. But exercise really can help, and it stands to reason that it could help it from getting worse or coming back.
Fun Ways to Exercise
I’ve talked a little bit about why exercise is good for you, now for the potentially difficult part: the exercise itself. If you’re like me then you hate running on a treadmill, or watching the same workout videos day after day. Well, have no fear, because I am here with different ways to make exercise more fun. Without further ado, here are three fun ways to brighten up your day:
Grab a friend!
Exercising with a friend is a great way to not only get active, but keep yourself active as well. It makes sure that you are held accountable for exercising: after all, you don’t want to disappoint your friend, do you? Not to mention exercising with someone else is far more fun, and can allow for all sorts of games to be played.
An online buddy can work as well. You can always turn it into a friendly competition: see who can hike the most miles, or run the longest, or do the most skating tricks. Just remember, don’t push yourself or your buddy too hard and always keep your competition friendly and, most importantly, safe.
Do you like nature, or just being outside? Instead of going to the gym, try exercising outside. There are many different options of things you can do, and most importantly many of them are free or low-cost.
Go hiking, running through a forest trail, or ride your mountain bike through the wilderness. Go swimming in a lake. Like birds? Go bird watching! Take a walk and see what birds you can see and hear; don’t worry if you can’t identify them all now, it’ll come later. If you’re more of a people person, then go people watching. Or, if you want to be more social, play some games with friends.
Exercising outside will also give you a good source of Vitamin D. Just remember to wear sunscreen, and be mindful of your surroundings.
Play a game!
Another great way to exercise is to play a game with a friend. If you like sports, then you’re already set. But if you don’t play a sport, fear not: there are plenty of fun ways to stay active. Ultimate frisbee is a fun game that requires nothing more than two teams and a frisbee. Or you could have more unusual games. Go back to your childhood roots and play something like hopscotch or foursquare, or whatever your local equivalent is. Have a three-legged race with a group of friends. Play tug-of-war with that same group. There are all sorts of fun outdoor and even indoor games that can keep you active.