Exercise is good for your mental well-being on so many levels. It gives you a buzz.
Your body: Firstly, and the most base level, good exercise can help you to lose weight. Losing weight leads to better health in general terms, more mobility, better posture and reduces risks of problems in later life, particularly heart disease. When people start to notice that you have lost weight they will comment on how great you look. If nothing else, this will make you feel so much better within yourself. You will feel far less self-conscious and look better. This looking and feeling better will certainly rub off and people will be more attracted to the more confident you.
Confidence: that word again! What does it mean to feel it and to show it? I’m still looking for that answer but I’m told I show it and I guess I’m feeling it far more now (even if I still can’t quantify it). I’m far more determined to go after what I want, I am far more likely to be forward in the dating game. I am far more likely to make date suggestions or look for things to do. Hell, I’m far more likely to make my feelings known. “I’ve enjoyed your company and want to see you again.” and I’m having the confidence to flirt with dates to whom I feel attracted. In fact, at times I have been a hopeless flirt and I never ever knew that I had it in me. Telling ubergeek that I love listening to her talk, that she is far more attractive than the actress she apparently looks like. I told Little Red that she’s one of the most amazing people I have ever met and that her ex-husband was mad to cheat on her. I thanks Mischief for a wonderful day and made it clear that I want to see her again.
Goals: Many people feel lost without goals to aspire to. Exercising presents simple goals… even if that is to keep up your regime. For some it will be to run farther and farther each week, to swim faster or to cycle greater distances and maybe take in a few hills. Goals are good; goals keep you on your toes.
Focus: When you have an exercise regime, not necessarily an intense one, it detracts from the brooding and boredom, the moments when you sit and think and worry about all of the problems you have going on in your life. When you are exercising (in my case running) you are focussed on breathing, pace, your workout, the shower you are looking forward to, how much weight you are going to have lost this week. How far can you manage today? Will you take your regular route or change it slightly?
Fresh air: Getting out into the fresh air and getting some sunshine is good for you. Certain chemicals are released in the brain when you are feeling the sun on your face and it gives you a healthy dose of vitamins that you need to keep you mentally healthy.
Good chemicals: Dopamine, Serotonin and Endorphins – very powerful chemicals that are regulated through exercise. Endorphins give you that buzz, that feeling of euphoria you feel when on or just after a workout. It is the little bit inside you that makes you want to go again or to keep it up. Powerful and addictive! Dopamine is a “pleasure” chemical which is also released when you exercise. Finally, serotonin which helps you sleep. The more you exercise, the better you will sleep, the less you feel insomnia the better you will feel during the day. These three chemicals are vital to controlling depression. You should be exercising for your physical health anyway but if you have mental health problems, this could aid your therapy and any antidepressants you are taking.
Libido: Indirectly, weight loss will make you feel more confident and sexier in yourself. This is partly because of your increased energy levels and partly because people notice how you carry yourself. Yet exercise is good for the sex drive and all of our relationships can certainly benefit from that! Exercise and weight loss increases testosterone in both men and women, the “male” sexual chemical. Blood flow improves (which means firmer and better-sustained erections meaning you can go longer in the sack). But it is also those endorphins again giving you that buzz, the drive and the energy.