The Power of Exercise
Research indicates that with even moderate exercise, your mitochondria ( your cellular energy factories) literally grow in size and efficiency. Basically, the more you move the more energy your body will make.
The human body is similar to a self-winding watch – it’s designed to generate more energy when you move. When you activate your muscles, you are revving up the gears of your molecular machinery.
– Oxygen utilization increases and becomes more efficient.
– Sugar (glucose) is better processed.
– Fat burning is increased.
– Brain cells regenerate faster.
– Brain functions improve: memory, problem-solving, concentration and alertness.
– Cardiac and pulmonary functions improve.
– The nervous system shifts toward a calming state ( parasympathetic)
– Your brain releases the “feel good” neurotransmitters – serotonin and endorphins.
The Oxygen Factor:
Oxygen is a crucial raw material of energy production. Exercise increases the oxygen supply to your cells. Exercise enables your lungs to become more efficient at extracting oxygen from air; the heart pumps more blood and blood vessels dilate, which increases oxygen delivery; hemoglobin releases a greater amount of reserved oxygen when body temperatures rise; and over time new capillaries actually grow.
By remaining sedentary, you are virtually suffocating your cells – you are not maximizing your oxygen reserves or energy supply.
The Mind-Body Connection:
What you believe and can conceive – you can achieve. Our body is directed by the mind. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. With exercise, as in all aspects of our life, what begins at an energy level – with thought or intention – translates to the molecular level and then
reverberates throughout the body . Exercise helps to build more efficient energy-building mitochondria; you also train and recruit more muscles to burn more sugar calories for the same amount of effort and produce more enzymes that better metabolize fat. As muscle develops and grows and fat dissipates, your cardiovascular endurance ( stamina) and energy levels rise and guess what, exercise becomes easier.
The Depression Connection:
Moderate exercise, according to many studies, is a powerful, natural anti-depressant. Exercise elevates the same neurotransmitters targeted by antidepressant medications, but without all the side effects, not to mention the cost. Many people suffer from mild forms of depression without realizing it. Regular exercise is the healthiest path to an improved state of mind.
Note: Individuals who have been prescribed antidepressants should not taper or discontinue use without a doctor’s supervision.
Keep it Challenging and Stimulating:
It is important to always remember to start easy and gradually build intensity and duration. Always warm up to prepare the body for activity. Build a good strong base of fitness – balancing aerobic, strength (upper/ lower body and core), balance, agility, and flexibility into your training. Then you can introduce new challenges ( sports or new activities) that test your fitness levels. Creativity helps to reduce boredom and chance of injury – this is best accomplished by cross-training ( essentially alternating your workouts and varying the muscles used to perform in those workouts)
It is never too late to discover your inner-athlete. Every step you take , every mile you walk, every weight you lift, and every breath you take gives you new energy and life. All of the actions you take today will improve your life for years to come. The key is getting in touch with your inner potential. It starts with a thought and intention. It develops and continues with your commitment and desire to live a healthy life. You can use the power of the mind – such as creative visualization or guided imagery. Seeing yourself as athletic may be one of the most powerful tools you have for actually becoming athletic.
Two keys in successful visualization include – make it detailed and to visualize in the present. Support your visualizations with affirmations ( Ex: I am strong, I am fit, I feel great).
The inner athlete exists within each and every person. The journey begins with self-awareness and self-examination. Make a clear map of the terrain that lies ahead. Make a plan and make sure to strengthen your resolve by creating a strong support network. By getting clear of your goals and the obstacles that block your success you can create a path to reaching your potential – and eventually connecting with your inner athlete.