Read This And You’ll Actually Want To Exercise

Struggling to find motivation to move your body? Rebecca Parkes reminds us of four important areas of wellbeing that are positively impacted when we workout.

Having our world enter this strange new reality hasn’t been all bad news. It has brought about some positives too: a slower pace of life, increased family connection time and a chance to re-focus as we take a step back from what we’ve come to know as ‘life’. 

As we adjust to lifestyle restrictions due to Covid finding its sneaky way back into the country (hopefully it’ll bugger off as quickly as it reappeared), a new population of walkers and runners use their neighbourhood pathways as a chance to get out of the house!

While stress is ever-present in life, career, family and health, being active and treating yourself to daily exercise is an important investment to your own good health.

Here’s four areas of your body and mind that will love you back, should you lace up and get moving on the regular.

GLOWING SKIN
There’s a reason why we take time to apply a perfect swipe of blusher to our cheeks – to emulate that gorgeous healthy glow achieved by a bit of huff and puff. Apart from this instant enhancement, there’s some solid science that proves when we exercise we obtain long-term skin improvements. 

When we move our body we increase movement of blood and lymph through our circulatory system, and this means good things for our skin health. When more blood is delivered to our skin cells due to this circulation boost it means that our skin receives an influx of precious nutrients that promote optimum skin function. 

Blood also carries oxygen which is renowned for its collagen-boosting, healing and anti-inflammatory effects, hence why skin therapists go to great lengths to get it into our skin topically. The increase in lymph means that skin-damaging toxins and free radicals are effectively carried away before they are able to wreak havoc on our skin cells. 

We know that a good sweat-session is another great way to expel toxins from our skin, just be aware that our sweat also contains bacteria so don’t let it hang around and give your skin a thorough cleanse after your workout.

At-home workouts have never been more accessible.

GOOD QUALITY REST
Exercise increases the duration and depth of sleep. This benefit alone should have us all prioritising some movement in our day. Of course, a vigorous workout is going to expend energy and tire you out to some degree. But there’s more to it than that; exercise helps to rid out body of cortisol – a stress hormone released by our adrenal glands which is basically sleep’s worst enemy. 

When stored in our bodies, cortisol can cause you to feel anxious and irritable which is certainly not conducive to a peaceful descent into dreamland. To get the most out of exercise’s wonderful side effect, it can pay to look at when we do it. 

While it can be difficult for some to choose when in the day we get our movement in, exercising too close to bedtime may actually prove to be a sleep hinderance thanks to stimulating endorphins that like to lingers in our system afterwards. Aim to workout at least two hours before bedtime, especially if you tend to experience a ‘high’ after you exercise.  Another note on timing; get your exercise outside while the sun is shining, and you will encourage your body to get into its natural circadian rhythm, making for an easier drift off into sleep at night.

Social indoor and outdoor sports are a great way to mix friends and fitness.

IMMUNITY BOOST
We all want to optimise our immunity right now and exercise can certainly help. An active body is generally healthier one, but did you know that when we exercise we create an abundance of white blood cells which circulate around our body. Officially called leukocytes, these cells make up our internal army, responsible for defending us against infection – so the more the merrier! 

Exercise may also help to rid our airways and lungs of bacteria, another compelling reason to lace up your shoes and step out the door. A word of caution however, over-exercising can be detrimental to our defence system, so be careful not to go too crazy.

MOOD ENHANCEMENT
Whether it’s a trip to the gym (or for Aucklanders right now, online workouts) or a neighbourhood walk, exercise can be a way to gain that precious human connection that is so vital to our state of mind. 

The distraction factor of getting out and moving our body is a fantastic strategy for counteracting feelings of anxiety and stress. There’s a scientific explanation to why exercise is so effective at increasing our feel-good factor. When we move, anti-anxiety neuro-chemicals such as serotonin, gama aminobutyric acid and neutrophic factor are released into our system which work to bring about a sense of calm.

We know that finding motivation to move our body can be tricky, but knowing that we’re doing something that brings so many amazing benefits for our body… It’s hard not to feel great about that!

Exercise helps us manage our mood, rest better, and have more energy when we need it.

BRebecca Parkes. Rebecca is a mother, a skin therapist and skincare educator.