In the past few years, ‘wellbeing’ has become a real buzz word. We hear it banded around in newspapers, on social media and on TV. Wellbeing can mean so many different things to different people, so I’ve outlined below what wellbeing means to me and how I achieve overall wellbeing through an active and healthy lifestyle! Take a look…
For me, happiness is key to feeling good and looking great especially during the dark winter months. I find that regular exercise improves my overall mood and wellbeing, helping me to feel happy and content in my life. This is because during and after exercise the body releases ‘feel good chemicals’ dopamine, nor-epinephrine and serotonin which are shown to improve overall wellbeing and enhance mood.
Cardiovascular exercise and tough work outs increase levels of brain derived protein (BNDF). These new brain cells increase levels of decision making and higher thinking and learning levels. It also increases productivity of the hippocampus which sharpens our memory and improves cognitive decline. The ideal amount of exercise for improved cognitive function is 30-60 minutes, 3-5 times a week.
Interval training helps build the mindful muscle in our brain, the prefrontal cortex. This can help us with staying present and in the moment. Runners call it a state of flow. We also build this muscle when regularly practicing mediation.
The physiology of sport and exercise makes your body stronger it is the best anti-ageing tool we have. It improves circulation in your skin, it makes our heart, muscles and bones stronger. It helps us have a good body image and self confidence which is crucial to overall wellbeing.
During and after exercise I tend to feel a sense of achievement, satisfaction and pride in myself and my personal ability. This in turn can give us confidence that we can learn new skills at any age, we can do anything and keep learning and keep improving. Dopamine (one of those ‘feel good chemicals’) is also the reward chemical, so exercise can become addictive but it can also help control addictions.
Exercise can improve our nutrition because of the good habits we have formed and the new awareness of our bodies. I find my body often craves good food because I need to replace nutrients after exercising.
Who wouldn’t like to have more energy? When we have increased levels of energy we become more productive in all areas of our lives. It can make us more efficient at time management and it can give us a sense of purpose and focus to be present to do the things in our lives that are the most important. I find that when it comes to exercise, the more I put in, the more I get out and as a result my energy levels increase!
Getting outdoors, connecting and interacting with nature helps us boost our creativity. I love running outside in the beautiful countryside where I live in the Chilterns. It makes me feel alive and it helps me put life’s struggles into perspective! A great resource for finding local running routes near you is Map My Run.
Looking to relax and reduce your stress levels? Physical activity reduces our stress levels and helps us cope better with anxiety and depression. Exercise biologically toughens up the brain, so stress has less impact and we have a better ability to cope and respond to mentally taxing situations.
Exercise reduces immune system chemicals that make depression worse and regular exercise improves relaxation and sleep. Top tip: The ideal time to exercise is 5-6 hours before we go to sleep. Exercise naturally increases our core temperature and when this drops it encourages sleep.