Nowadays, the world has entered into a new normal, one that is defined by the lingering effects of COVID-19. Although many of our institutions and facilities have reopened and people return back to work, the impact left behind has been unmistakable. Physical distancing regulations are still in place, masks in public indoor spaces and limitations and restrictions in place for our restaurants, schools, and places of worship. One of the many places that has been affected immensely is the public gym and community centres. Considering the frequent use and openness to the entire community, these centres were labelled as the most vulnerable to outbreaks and have thus been the most heavily restricted.
Although necessary, these measures have come with the drawback of many people used to constant physical exercise now having nowhere to go and seemingly nothing to do. In the 21st century, the standard work for an individual in a 1st world country is an office-based job. One that relies on someone driving to a certain location at which they usually spend many hours a day in front of a computer screen before packing up and driving back home. Gone are the days for many coming from work sweaty, nowadays, it’s the mind that does the workout. While beneficial to our technology and standard of living, it has harmed our physical health. It’s no surprise that 1st world countries, while being the most developed, are also the most obese leading to numerous other complications such as higher rates of diabetes and various cardiovascular conditions.
Staying Fit One Step At a Time
It’s been shown that aerobic exercise; exercise associated with more cardio and endurance work which builds overall fitness and is less focused on building bone and muscle; has many numerous health benefits for people of all ages. For one, aerobic exercise improves your cardiovascular conditioning meaning that you have a decreased risk of acquiring heart disease. This can range from decreasing your risk and/or vulnerability to heart attack and stroke as well as help with lowering blood pressure and helping to control your blood sugar.
As technology has improved, we’ve needed to use less and less of our physical energy but taking away more and more of that initiative takes away from humans what we were meant to do; move. The sheer act of movement is already responsible for health benefits, and those are not always linked to the physical.
Movement = Improved Mental Health?
It’s been shown that participants who participate in aerobic exercise more frequently tend to have less anxiety. This is due to the brain’s fight or flight system which is used for making quick decisions when in danger is less reactive after exercise. In essence, after exercise, your body doesn’t jump into instinct mode that easily and you are able to keep your cool more effectively and control yourself even when things get rough in life. In an article published in the U.S National Library of Medicine, exercise was proven to be “as effective medication and psychotherapies” when it comes to reducing depressive symptoms. Another condition that many people struggle with in the current day to the increased hyperstimulation of our world is attention-deficit disorder or ADHD. A study conducted with 20 participants discovered that participants’ motivation for though-intense tasks was enhanced, energy levels increased and confusion, fatigue and depression decreased.
In an article published in Harvard Medical School, the scientific aspect was delved into. It turns out that the doctrine that exercise calms you down is scientifically proven. It has been shown that working out decreases levels of stress-related hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol while boosting levels of endorphins which are the body’s “pain killers” and also lead to “happy feelings”. Those endorphins are the cause of the so-called “runner’s high” which in truth occurs for just about any athlete which results in a sudden burst of energy after being seemingly entirely depleted.
Why Is Morning Best?
The morning, it isn’t always a time of day that we cherish. For some of us, it’s like a new frontier, a mystical land that we wish we could join if we only had the strength. For others, it’s hell on Earth itself and for still yet others, it is the best time of day. So if you’re not in the last category but you want to be, here’s how your mornings can be the beginning of a new you.
- Beating the heat. The hottest time of day tends to be from 11am to 4pm so getting up early to get the job done before peak hours is a great way to avoid having to spend the most gruelling part of the day being drenched in sweat. With the summer heat as well as more working from home due to COVID, there has never been a better time to start exercising in the early mornings than now. We all know how brutal the summer heat can be!
- Increasing your attentiveness. Do you remember cortisol, the stress hormone of the body? It also serves the function of alertness and readiness. Cortisol levels increase in the morning and drop in the evening and tend to peak around 8 a.m. In short, your body is more primed for physical activity at that time of day than any other, so take advantage of it!
- Improved sleep! In a 2014 study by Vascular Health and Risk Management demonstrated adults having reportedly better sleep on days when they exercised at 7a.m rather than later. The participants also spent more time in deep sleep and woke up fewer times during the night overall.
- Better appetite control. It’s been shown that exercise helps to regulate your appetite by reducing levels of your hunger hormone. Have you ever been a victim of constantly going down to the fridge to get snacks on a day when you just laid around? I’ve certainly been one. This, compared to days when you’re very focused on getting all of your work done and at the end of the day you realized you ate only once yet you still feel fine.
A Proper Workout
Exercise equipment is something that should not be taken for granted when it comes to having a good workout. The standard exercise of walking, running, jogging, hiking or swimming is great but sometimes people prefer something a little more interactive and less dull. With gyms operating on limited capacities, buying exercise equipment to have your own personal gym is a good long-term solution.
It will: 1) allow you to work out anytime you want, 2) make it more convenient, closer to bed and 3) you don’t have to worry about feeling self-conscious. Sports are another fun and interactive medium to improve your aerobic fitness but are unfortunately not usually offered or are difficult to find partners for at that particular time of the day.
Getting in a good workout at the right time is not only a matter of improving your fitness and taking advantage of the time in the day but also involves the improvement of long-term health problems which could lead to higher life expectancy, a vastly improved mental health as well as so much more. Exercising in the morning is one of the best ways to make the most out of your day by looking better and feeling better and that way, making the most out of your life by looking and feeling good every day when you wake up.