Can indoor cycling improve your intellect? Could squats make you more successful? Will weight lifting make you wealthy? Science suggests that if you start working out regularly, you won’t just boost your health and fitness – you’ll make gains at work and in other areas of your life.
If you’re facing a tough day and want an immediate mood boost, add 20 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise to your morning routine. It’s a well-recognized formula for instant mood enhancement – and not only will it quickly spark an endorphin high, but the positive effects can last for up to 12 hours. According to scientists exploring how exercise eases negativity, it takes just four aerobic exercise sessions a week to reap significant psychological benefits, such as reduced depression and feelings of hostility. And the mood-enhancing benefits are long-lasting, they can still be in your system for weeks following your exercise!
If early morning cardio is not your thing, you can still enjoy exercise-induced happiness. Another set of researchers evaluated 23 published studies and established all manner of exercise is consistently linked to happiness. They found that as little as 10 minutes of physical exercise per week can result in increased levels of happiness. Those who accumulated at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days were 30 percent more likely to report being ‘happy’ than those who didn’t get their fitness fix.
Studies show there’s a link between the amount of time people exercise and the size of their salary. According to the Journal of Labor Research (USA), employees who exercise regularly earn nine percent more than their more sedentary sidekicks. And regardless of their actual salary, regular exercisers just feel wealthier anyway.
Don’t forget there are other financial perks associated with exercise too; like lower healthcare costs and the ability to remain productive into old age.
If you’re studying for an exam or simply want to increase your intellect, a good sweat session could be just the ticket. Studies show that exercise promotes academic achievement and can bolster your cognitive function, improve your memory, and lift your attention span. It will also enhance your executive function, which is your ability to think differently, adapt to new situations, and regulate emotions. The intellect advancing benefits kick in because exercise alters the physical makeup of your brain. When you do aerobic exercise it will increase the amount of grey matter (the parts of the brain that have nerve endings), which lifts your brain’s processing capabilities.
And it happens pretty quickly. One recent study revealed how the brain-boosting benefits observed after just one workout can indicate the extent of long-term changes. Those who saw the biggest improvements in cognition and functional brain connectivity after single sessions of moderate-intensity physical activity also showed the biggest long-term gains.
While much of the research around physical fitness and brainpower has focused on slowing cognitive decline in older people, a new study of twenty-somethings shows that if you’re young and fit you’re also likely to have superior memory and thinking skills. Using special MRI brain scans, German scientists assessed the white matter (the parts of the brain that connect neurons and the brain regions) inside 1200 young people’s brains. They also carried out cognitive tests, medical check-ups, aerobic fitness tests, and health and lifestyle questionnaires. Those who were relatively out-of-shape had poorer memory and thinking skills, plus their white matter was weaker and more frayed than those with better fitness levels.
Being physically fit increases your immunological fitness too – so you’re less likely to be out of action with sickness. Exercising increases blood flow and mobilizes white blood cells –one of your body’s main defences against harmful microbes. The antioxidants produced during exercise can help lessen the impacts of the disease. Experts recommend exercise as good medicine for countering everything from common colds to chronic illnesses such as cancer and COVID-19.
A huge comparison study of exercise and drug interventions found that being fit was as good – if not better – at combatting many chronic illnesses.
A fascinating new study (involving mice) has revealed that regular exercise can make it easier to bounce back from stressful situations. It all comes down to something called galanin, a peptide associated with mental health. People with genetically low levels of galanin face an uncommonly high risk of depression and anxiety disorders. Exercise leads to a surge in galanin production, and the more galanin, the greater the stress resilience.
These new findings are backed up by numerous other studies linking physical activity to reduced feelings of anxiety, improved quality of life, and better sleep. One study, in particular, found that when it came to stress relief group exercise was a winner. Working with 70 medical students (a niche population with above-average stress-related depression and anxiety), Dr. Dayna Yorks found that those who attended at least one CXWORX class per week showed lower stress levels than individual exercisers.
Although we can’t physically attend group exercise classes during lockdown, Active Tameside has partnered with Les Mills to bring you over 100 exclusive virtual classes that you can do at home via the app. Virtual classes are a great way to keep you motivated and you can choose from a wide variety of cardio, strength, dance, core, flexibility and mindfulness classes such as BODYPUMP, BODYATTACK, CXWORX, BODYBALANCE, BODYCOMBAT, GRIT, BARRE, BODYSTEP, SH’BAM and more!
Make the most of our lockdown offer and gain access for only £5 per month! Or, if you’re an Active Premier member, you can access virtual Les Mills classes for free. Find out more and sign up here.
So, if you want to be happier, smarter, wealthier, more productive, and more successful, exercise could be your golden ticket. And just a few workouts a week is all it takes.
Your card, your choice. Choice is a great thing in life, so you’ve come to the right place. With so many ways to spend your Active Choice Card you’ll never be stuck for fun family times, fitness and wellbeing times, Fuel cafes catch-up times and for those activity must-haves (forgotten the goggles, stylish swimwear) you can also spend it at our in-centre stores.