Mind & Body
Moving Toward Better Quality of Life through Exercise
9/1/2017 12:31:56 PM
Exercise

Would you like to improve your memory, flexibility, lower your stress level, boost your mood and energy level?  Most Americans would say "Yes!” immediately. You might be surprised to find out that it’s all possible through exercise.

"Movement affects every area of your life, both physically and mentally,” says Suzy Trahan, wellness coach, ACM certified exercise physiologist, registered dietitian nutritionist, and director of Dynamic Dimensions Fitness Centers. "We often think of weight loss or building muscle when we think of exercise, but it’s so much more than that. You can greatly improve your quality of life through movement.”

To boost your outlook and reap great benefits, Trahan says you don’t have to spend hours exercising. "We need to focus more on movement training, which involves so much more than muscle, to improve our daily life activities. The more we train movement, the greater our bodies respond to everyday life,” she explains. 

Benefit your brain.  

Activity stimulates the growth of nerve cells in the region of the brain involved in memory. An active mind produces new dendrites; these are the connections between nerve cells that allow cells to communicate with each other, and to store and retrieve information more easily.

Researchers with Columbia University Medical Center say exercise optimizes the brain to learn and remember by making the brain cells more resilient and pliable, which allows the brain to retain new information. 

Regular physical movement is one of the few ways to generate new neurons in the brain. This strong neural network allows information to be better stored and processed.  

Stretch and flex.

The way a person moves says a lot about them. How do they get out of a chair? Can they easily pick something up from the floor? Is reaching difficult? All of these daily life tasks can be enhanced through flexibility. 

"A limber, graceful body looks young and energetic, no matter what the actual age,” says Trahan. "Flexibility can’t be faked, injected, or bought. For a body to move with ease, it must be agile. Some people are naturally flexible, but the majority of us need to move and stretch.”

The good news is that only 30 percent of flexibility is attributed to heredity, which means the majority comes from personal choices and daily habits. "Muscles can become more flexible at any age, and increased flexibility makes routine tasks a little easier. Bending to tie shoes, lifting packages or twisting to get something out of reach becomes easier with more flexibility and mobility in the joints,” says Trahan. 

Stress less.

When life gets hectic, exercise is often one of the first things to be crossed off the list, but exercise is one of the best ways to cope with feelings of stress. Studies show people who exercise are also happier and less stressed overall than their sedentary counterparts. The American Council on Exercise and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Association endorses exercise as a way to reduce stress.

During exercise, the body produces the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters known as endorphins. These increase self-confidence and feelings of well-being. "Clarity is also improved,” says Trahan. "During a workout, it takes concentration to complete the movements and maintain balance. This focus on a single task often helps other stressors in your life fall into place. Exercise gives your body and your mind a renewed sense of positive focus.” 

Boost your mood. 

In an odd twist, exercise helps quiet the body. While exercise is all about movement, energy, and motion, after the exercise routine is completed, the body balances itself by calming nerves, producing endorphins and pumping blood throughout the body more efficiently. Exercise helps the body release toxins and excess energy creating a more positive outlook. 

"Doing something beneficial to lift your mood is a positive coping strategy,” explains Trahan. "Being sedentary often leads to low energy levels. By focusing on movement, you’ll likely have a more optimistic outlook.”

Exercise increases body temperature, which has a calming effect on the body. It also releases muscle tension, helps improve sleep habits and reduces levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. These changes can help improve one’s mood and outlook. 

Increase energy.

Energy levels affect almost every function of the body. When a person feels energetic, they report having good feelings about themselves overall. 

"It might seem like a contradiction,” says Trahan, "to ask people to expend energy in order to gain energy, but when those endorphins are released thanks to exercise, it makes a world of difference. Moving your body generates energy. The more you sit, the more tired you feel. When you exercise, your heart pumps more blood and the body extracts more oxygen from that blood, boosting your overall health and energy level.”

Energy levels naturally ebb and flow. It’s natural for it to dip lower on some days than others; but continuously feeling drained is not natural, and lifestyle habits are usually to blame.

Trahan cautions that exercise does not need to be strenuous to gain these quality-of-life benefits. "It’s better to have a moderate routine and continue it rather than abandoning exercise all together because it’s too difficult or too time consuming.” Aim for thirty minutes, five days a week to reap these wellness benefits. 

Being active boosts not only the body, but also the mind and emotions. Focusing entirely on weight loss can be discouraging if it doesn’t happen as fast as one would like; paying attention to the quality of life benefits can be a great motivation.

For more information about exercise benefits, call Dynamic Dimensions in Sulphur at 527-5459 or Moss Bluff at 855-7708.
Posted by: Christine Fisher | Submit comment | Tell a friend

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