I never understood the fascination with exercise. It looked repetitive, felt absolutely torturous and I always ended up a smelly, sweaty mess after. Yet, I admit there is something about exercise that once you get started (really started) you can’t seem to stop.
Exercise is one of the healthiest ways to experience better living through better brain chemistry. Regular moderate to vigorous exercise releases endorphins; and these ‘feel good’ hormones energise us as well as reduce our sugar cravings. I also find that exercising encourages us to make sensible choices. That chocolate bar is equivalent to another 30 minutes of running? I’ll skip that, thank you!
Studies have also found a correlation between exercise and sleep. A new study shows that individuals who got at least 150 minutes of exercise per week slept significantly better and felt more alert during the day. Interestingly, the connection also works the other way around, with good sleep influencing exercise the next day.
Sleep is not made up of one thing. Instead it is composed of several different processes; each of these being independently important and equally responsive to regular exercise. The types of sleep include slow wave sleep (often characterized as important for body repair and maintenance), rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep (during which dreams typically occur) and N2 sleep which constitutes more than half of our overall sleep time.
Without experiencing all stages of sleep, you never fully relax during the night and as a result you can wake feeling tired and wired. For extra support in this area, you may want to partner your new exercise regime with our Neuro-Natural Sleep. It is a complex product containing ingredients such as Valerian, Hops and Passion Flower extract. It is specifically designed to support healthy sleeping patterns; promoting restful sleep and encouraging healthy night time brain function naturally!
Now I want to clarify what I mean by exercise here. I mention running, which as Julie covered in this week’s blog, is not for everyone. However, exercise can be anything from mountain biking with friends and walking the dog, to doing the vacuuming and mowing the lawn on a Sunday afternoon. Any physical activity that causes your heart rate to increase, is exercise!
But before we get a bit too excited and start doing star-jumps at our desks, I would like to remind you that there is no such thing as a quick-fix. You won’t get instant results the first night after you start exercising. However, regular exercise over a few weeks will quickly start to pay off – make it a part of your lifestyle instead of just a short-term solution. It takes just a few weeks to form a habit!
Here are some tips that may help you get off the couch and get moving (either individually or with others).
TIP #1: Walk away from your cravings.
Go for a brisk walk when you feel a sugar or carb craving coming on. Do this often instead of running to the refrigerator and you’ll find yourself craving the exercise instead of the sweet snack.
TIP #2: Avoid sweet rewards.
Rewarding ourselves with a snack or dessert can be traced right back to childhood. How often do we promise candy to a child if the vegetables get eaten? Replace sweet treats with other rewards like a visit to the park or playground and teach your children from a young age not to associate sugar with a reward.
TIP #3: Join a class.
Classes at a gym or a YMCA centre keep exercising fun and help you stick to a routine. For example, spin class every Monday ensures you mix-up your exercise while exercising every Monday.
TIP #4: Buddy up.
It is amazing what accountability can do to us. Buddy up with a friend or family member and aim to do something you both love once every week. Tennis on Thursdays? Sounds like a plan.
I don’t know how you are feeling right now, but just writing this article has got me all fired up! I cannot wait to get home and get into my old running shoes for a jog/run around the block. I’m also buddying up with my mum and sister for a pilates class every Monday, starting next week - family bonding at its best.
What are your plans to get you sleeping better? We would love to hear it. Let’s take this one “step” at a time.
In good health.
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