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Published on June 24, 2021

7 Ways Regular Exercise Boosts Your Mood And Energy

7 Ways Regular Exercise Boosts Your Mood And Energy
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Have you ever woke up tired, under the weather, feeling heavy, or feeling off? Well, your mood and energy levels are most likely to blame. Did you know that the core of your body is made up of pure energy? That’s right, the core of your being—like all things in the universe—is 100% energy. It’s downright important, therefore, to prioritize your energy levels, as it regulates all other functions in your body, including your mood. And exercise, whether you like it or not, is the activity that will help get you there.

In this article, you’re going to learn the seven ways in which regular exercise boosts your mood and energy.

You see, the norm of society nowadays is the main culprit to lower mood and energy levels. In a world where sitting for long stretches at a time has become the new disease, it may come as no surprise that you feel lethargic regularly. Having said that, if you’re ready to get exercising for a minimum of 20 minutes a day, then you’re going to find out exactly how your life can take a turn for the better.

Now, exercise doesn’t necessarily have to be uphill sprints, running a marathon, or lifting heavy weights at the gym. While all the above are effective ways of keeping healthy, studies have found that a brisk walk and engaging in regular house chores can do it for you.[1]

Whatever regularly gets you off the couch is a winning strategy. Let’s dive into the ways regular exercise boosts your mood and energy.

1. Lowers Depression

Depression is an inflammatory condition and mood disorder, which can lead to all sorts of physical problems down the road. Luckily, studies have shown that simply an hour of low-intensity exercise a week was sufficient to possibly prevent future depressive episodes.[2]

Now, one hour is the lower side of the spectrum. If you increase your intensity to a moderate-to-vigorous one, such as running, or increase the time you spend exercising, your odds of keeping depression at bay increase.

How does it alleviate depression? Well, exercise such as running is proven to be as effective as anti-depressant medications.[3]

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How so? Exercise releases “happy” brain chemicals called endorphins, which are your body’s natural equivalent of morphine. Upon exercise, the flood of endorphins suppresses pain and boosts your mood.

You may have heard the term “runner’s high” being thrown around a few times. Well, as endorphins mask all pain your mind and body may be going through, you may be left with a feeling of euphoria.

2. Improves your Sleep

Whether you’re struggling to get enough hours of sleep at night, wake up feeling unrested, or suffer from broken sleep patterns, regular exercise boosts your mood and energy alright, but it also boosts your body’s wake-sleep cycle.

As you can imagine, exercise requires substantial physical exertion by your body, more so the more strenuous you choose to go. A moderate to vigorous run or workout, therefore, can leave you pumped and energized for a couple of hours afterward as endorphins flood your system.

But as you physically exert and tire your body out, a signal is also sent to your body to repair and recharge itself through sleep. Not only can the body signal to the brain a need to sleep at night by producing melatonin, the brain chemical that induces sleep, but the regular release of stress tension through exercise also aids and supports the release of this vital hormone.[4]

In fact, in a fast-paced, technological era, regular exercise can counter the effects of melatonin suppression as a result of increased stress levels and screen time. Having said that, it’s important to keep an eye on the time at which you carry out certain exercises.

For example, If you’re going for a brisk walk or engaging in house chores and other low-intensity exercises, then the time of day is not necessarily important. However, as a rule of thumb, if you’re going to go for a run or gym workout and engage in moderate to vigorous exercise at night, the increased energy and endorphins post-exercise may work out against you.

Exercise late at night can disrupt rather than promote the release of melatonin as your body remains agitated and energized for a while afterward. Hence, try to fit in your regular exercise in the mornings for the best quality sleep at night.

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3. Improves Your Self-Esteem

How does a sustainable shift in your confidence levels sound to you? Wouldn’t it feel great to believe you’re worth and capable of handling things you never before thought you would? That’s right, engaging in regular exercise can rewire your brain’s perception of self-respect and boost your beliefs in your own capabilities.

The simple act of completing one workout or run can leave you feeling a short-term sense of pride and accomplishment. Now, as you start feeling these feelings regularly through exercise, your body and mind will quickly start to recognize this as a habit. Like all habits, the body and mind will start to change to accommodate the new changes being experienced in your life.

It may take you a couple of months until your new weekly exercise routine starts to become automatic, but stay consistent and remind yourself of the feel-good feelings you experience after every workout. Once your new habit becomes hardwired into your nervous system, you’ll quickly start to realize a positive shift in your self-esteem, which can domino into other areas of your life, and another important area of your life worth mentioning is your diet.

Generally speaking, when you feel good and great in your body and mind, you’re more likely to want to maintain those feel-good feelings and reach out for healthy food choices. Don’t worry, your body generally knows what’s best for you. Every individual responds best to different healthy food choices.

In general, the lighter you feel, the more energy you’ll radiate and the higher your overall sense of well-being. From a place of high self-esteem and self-respect, you’ll find yourself more in control of your eating habits and make choices that suit your body best.

4. Increases Daily Energy

As already mentioned, your entire human body is made up of energy. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the simple act of moving your body can do enough to move stagnant energies around to make you feel more alive. Regular exercise, however, can do way more than just move your stagnant energies.

Just to give you a short biology class, every single cell of your body is responsible for creating the energy you experience daily. This happens because each one of your cells has little structures within them called mitochondria. It’s these structures that are responsible for generating the energy for each one of your cells. They are in fact called the “powerhouse” of the cell.

Why is this important? Well, no energy, no life!

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You see, when you exercise regularly close to physical exhaustion, your body will start signaling to your cells that they need to generate more energy. This is done by signaling your cells to create more mitochondria. As more mitochondria are generated, the more oxygen your cells can absorb to accommodate your exercise routine and the more power and energy you will start to feel daily.

If you build up enough stamina with regular exercise, you can begin to feel like you can run an entire marathon!

Bonus Tip: Mitochondria feed off your food intake. So, keep an eye out for what you’re putting into your body for optimal energy levels.

5. Increased Resilience to Stress

Regular exercise doesn’t only lower the cortisol levels in your blood, but it can also increase your tolerance to the stressors in your life.

As you exercise, even at low levels, your muscles release chemicals that signal to your brain to effect some changes. These chemicals, known as myokines, not only reduce anxiety and depression, but they boost your mood and can also make your brain more resilient to stress.

This can be of great benefit to you if you get overwhelmed easily. The more you exercise, the more myokines are released into your bloodstream. As they pass through the blood-brain barrier, the more they can influence lasting structural changes in your brain for the better.

6. Better Focus and Memory

The release of endorphins in your system not only boosts your mood. Have you ever noticed how sharp you feel after a workout?

Well, regular exercise can, directly and indirectly, improve your cognitive functioning over the long term. Thanks to improved sleeping patterns and lowered stress levels in your body, your mental capabilities become sharper, increasing your attention span as well as your short-term memory.

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In a world where our attention spans are getting shorter over the years thanks to technology, exercise can be the perfect counterbalance. In fact, studies show that regular exercise can also directly encourage the production and growth of new blood vessels in the brain, boosting your thinking skills.[5]

7. Higher Consciousness

Yes, exercise can be a meditation in itself. For all of you thinking that meditation is all about mantra chanting, it’s not. It’s actually all about connecting to yourself, connecting your mind, body, and spirit. When you exercise, such as going for a run, you’re forced to focus on your breath. If you don’t, you can easily tire yourself out early and get a stitch.

Focusing on your breath is partly what meditation is all about. As you control your body’s breathing, your focus shifts off your mind and onto your body. Without knowing it, you’re engaging in mindfulness practice.

As you begin to become more aware of your breath and the movement of your body, in time, you’ll also come to experience the stillness of your mind. When your mind is still, it allows you to experience higher levels of consciousness, which is the holy grail to feeling better in mood and energy.

Higher levels of consciousness not only boost your energy but can also leave you feeling prolonged feelings of happiness, love, and joy in your life. In other words, you’ll get to feel more alive than you do right now.

Takeaway

So, what are you waiting for to get off the couch? You have so many benefits waiting for you.

No matter your age, you don’t have to start any vigorous routine immediately. Simply realizing regular exercise boosts your mood and energy and making it into a habit will allow everything else to take care of itself.

Remember, the best investment you can make in life is in yourself. So, invest in your future self today to truly come alive and feel great!

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More Exercise Tips

Featured photo credit: Chander R via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Mathieu Ganado

FitYoga Instructor, Blogger and Wellness Business Owner

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Published on July 15, 2021

Shift Work Disorder: 17 Ways to Manage it Better

Shift Work Disorder: 17 Ways to Manage it Better
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Are you having trouble sleeping? Or do you feel like you can barely stay awake when you need to? Are you left tired and irritable, lacking the joy and motivation that life once brought? If these complaints are tied to your long or rotating work schedule, you may be suffering from shift work disorder—a common ailment among professions with schedules outside the typical 9 am to 6 pm range.[1]

Why does it matter? Let’s be honest—being tired stinks. It feels terrible and leaves you vulnerable to many health risks that well-rested people aren’t as susceptible to. Not only that, but it can also wreak havoc on your relationships and quality of life.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to help manage this, and you can start trying them out today! Some of the solutions may not be what you expect. For instance, you might have linked improved sleep to exercise, but did you know that being compassionate with yourself can also have an impact?

Who Are Affected by Shift Work Disorder?

Twenty-five million people are shift workers in the country, so you are far from alone if you are struggling with this. Shift work disorder is a condition frequently affecting anyone who works a job where their schedule is outside standard business hours. Nurses, police officers, firefighters, and factory workers are common examples of professions with schedules that rotate around the clock.

Rotating shifts naturally leads to a change in one’s schedule, including sleep. As your sleep schedule becomes more chaotic, your body is unable to adjust and regulate itself and can result in having difficulty falling or staying asleep. This inevitably leads to less sleep, which is where some big problems can arise.

What Are the Symptoms?

Sleep is one of the most important (and underrated) aspects of our lives. Enough sleep and good quality sleep are critical to our emotional, mental, and physical health.

Insufficient sleep can lead to a significantly increased risk of physical health problems, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and gastrointestinal disorders. Mentally, being tired contributes to having scattered concentration, difficulty processing information, and being more likely to make mistakes or have an accident. Emotionally, the fallout of being chronically exhausted is linked to poor emotional regulation including being irritated more quickly, as well as an increased likelihood of developing anxiety and depression.[2]

Any of this sound familiar? If so, keep reading for some scientifically-based tips to help you manage your sleep better and get your life back.

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17 Ways to Manage Shift Work Disorder Better

Quality sleep, or the lack thereof, impacts us physically, mentally, and emotionally. The most impactful plan of attack against shift work disorder and to regain quality sleep must also reflect that.

I suggest reading through all of the tips and formulating a plan based on what you think will work for you. Start by trying out one thing and build from there as you are able. Remember to construct a plan that addresses your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Let’s start in the most obvious place first:

Your Job

1. Make Your Schedule the Best It Can Be

Randomly rotating shifts has been found to have the worst impact on our health.[3] If you have to rotate your schedule, request to rotate shifts in a clockwise fashion.

For example: work the day shift, rotate to the nights, then to the early morning shift, then start back on the day shift. Sounds silly? It’s not. Studies show that our bodies more easily adjust to changes in schedule when completed in a clockwise manner.[4] This is because of something called our circadian rhythm—24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock that carry out essential functions. The most commonly known of these is sleep. It has been discovered that our circadian rhythm adjusts forward more easily than it does backward.

2. Speak to Your Manager About Keeping Your Workplace Bright

Special lights have been designed to assist with circadian rhythm. It turns out that absorbing bright light that is most similar to sunlight can positively impact regulating our circadian rhythm.[5]

3. Avoid a Long Commute to and From Work

Having a long drive home after working a rotating shift is statistically not in your best interest. It’s been shown that fatigued/sleepy employees are 70% more likely to have a workplace accident and 33% more likely to be involved in a traffic accident.[6]

To avoid putting yourself at risk by driving when you’re not at your best, catch a nap before leaving work, pull over to sleep, or stay at a friend’s house nearby.

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4. Speak to Your Manager About Your Concerns

Many companies that operate around the clock are willing and able to make accommodations to those working alternative shifts. Whether it’s helping you find a schedule that works best for you or connecting you with other programs designed to support your well-being, being in good communication with your employer is to everyone’s benefit.

Sleep Attitudes and Environment

5. Change Your Perspective and Start Prioritizing Sleep

Here’s the deal: despite some pretty well-known dangerous effects of not getting enough sleep, somewhere along the line, our society began to think of sleep as a luxury. Some even consider it a badge of honor to “power through” without much (or any) sleep. People have been made to feel embarrassed or lazy if they get the recommended amount of sleep each night.

Here’s the bottom line: sleep is not a luxury.

Let me repeat that—sleep is not a luxury, and getting a consistent and healthy amount does not make you a slacker. Sleep is actually when our body does a lot of repair work on itself—blood vessels, muscles, and other organs. Sleep also boosts our immunity.

If we could help people feel as proud about sleeping as we do about them working out regularly or sticking to a healthy diet, people might be a lot healthier.

6. Make Your Sleep Space as Conducive to Rest as Possible

This means tweaking your environment so it’s as enticing as possible for your body to go to sleep. Keep the room dark using blackout blinds, reduce the temperature (our body rests best when slightly cool), limit interruptions (phone calls, visitors, noise), and remove electronic devices.[7]

Set yourself up for success by supporting yourself through your surroundings. If you wanted to lose weight, you wouldn’t frequently surround yourself with cookies, cake, and ice cream, right? Same idea here.

Personal Habits and Choices

7. Stick to a Regular Sleep Schedule as Closely as Possible—on Workdays and Days Off

This is obviously difficult when your schedule changes on the regular, but the more consistent you can keep your bedtime, the easier time your body has getting to sleep and staying that way.[8]

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8. Allow Yourself Time to Catch Up on Sleep

Having enough days off to rest and recuperate is an important aspect of protecting your health. You wouldn’t expect to be able to drive across the country on one tank of gas, right? Filling your own personal gas tank is just as important.

9. Take Naps, but Don’t Overdo It

It’s recommended by the Cleveland Clinic to take a 90-minute nap just before starting your shift and then a 30-minute nap during your “lunch break” at work.[9] Again, this is all about keeping some gas in your tank and not allowing yourself to get to the point where you are running on fumes. Short naps will help you stay refreshed and alert on the job.

10. Limit Caffeine to the Start of Your Shift

Most of us love a good hit of caffeine, especially when we are tired. But overdoing it or having caffeine too late in your shift can negatively impact your ability to get to sleep when you finally have the time to do so. Moderate your intake to help yourself get some quality sleep.

11. Avoid Alcohol Before Bed

Unwinding after work with a drink can be tempting. It can make you drowsy, which many people mistakenly believe will help them get better sleep. Unfortunately, alcohol will actually keep you awake (or wake you up later). This obviously impairs your ability to get the quality of sleep you are looking for.

12. Don’t Smoke

Much like alcohol, people turn to nicotine to “calm their nerves” or help them relax. Also, like alcohol, nicotine has been shown to disrupt sleep.[10] Cut back or cut this habit out as able.

13. Eat Well and Eat Smart

Choose convenient nutritious meals and snacks. Nutritious food is the foundation from which our body creates the needed chemicals for quality sleep. Foods high in saturated fat and sugar have been shown to have the worst impact on sleep.[11]

Also, timing is everything as they say. Eating too much or not enough before your shift can cause you to feel tired.

14. Get Regular Exercise

According to numerous studies, exercise can be as effective in treating sleep disorders as prescription medication.[12] Yes, you read that correctly—regular exercise is the bomb!

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This one can be tricky to convince people to do, especially if they are already tired and short on time. If you don’t have the time to hit the gym, take a brisk walk, dance around your living room to your favorite song, or mow your lawn. Despite feeling tired, getting up off the couch and moving around (moderate to vigorous exercise) is best for reducing the time it takes to get to sleep and improving the quality of sleep.

Mental and Emotional

15. Establish Consistent Practices That Help You Relax Before Bed

This can include yoga, deep breathing, a warm bath, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, meditation, and hypnosis. These are designed to reduce physical tension and quiet your mind from thoughts that are keeping you awake. There are lots of great apps and free videos that can help you with this.

16. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT as it’s known, works by helping you to identify thoughts and behaviors that make sleep worse and then developing new habits consisting of thoughts and behaviors that promote sleep. There are psychologists and life coaches who are specially certified in CBT that can help you with this.

17. Show Yourself Some Compassion

Sounds silly? Well, it’s not. A seven-year study conducted at the University of Mannheim concluded that the daily practice of self-compassion positively impacted people’s quality of sleep.[13]

The concept of showing ourselves compassion is foreign (and uncomfortable) to many of us. Try going easy on yourself for being grumpy, and give yourself some credit for the efforts you are making in tough circumstances. What would you say to your best friend if they were struggling with the same situation? I routinely ask my clients this question as it’s sometimes easier to be compassionate to others than ourselves. This tip might take some practice, but the effort could result in a better night’s sleep.

Final Thoughts

Okay, there you have it—17 different ways you can help yourself manage shift work disorder, feel more rested, more like yourself, and enjoy life again. To get started with your plan, pick out a few tips that you can implement today, but remember to choose a well-rounded approach—addressing the physical, mental and emotional.

Be patient with yourself. It takes time to build new habits. And show yourself some compassion and kindness—you might just be able to sleep better when you do.

Featured photo credit: Yuris Alhumaydy via unsplash.com

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Reference

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