All-day, our brains work hard, sometimes thinking almost 80,000 thoughts in a day. At what point in our day do we step back and clear our minds and be free?
This is a subject that frankly is not my forte. I am not the guy to talk about clearing your mind and becoming one with your self, but the subject was brought up in a conversation between a friend and I. The thought of giving your brain a break seems like one that we could all use. Still, most of us are not going to go to the lengths of meditating or practicing some other form of calmness. Those practices are a niche group that is much smaller than the daily exercisers like me. (side note: there is nothing wrong with that.)
Daily challenging exercise can achieve all of these same things for our minds and more.
I mean, challenging in two ways. The first being physically challenging, and the second being mental. Physically, we can test ourselves in almost any exercise activity, but mentally challenging yourself in a workout is much tougher.
Exercise boosts dopamine, which improves mood and feelings of wellness and jump-starts the attention system. Dopamine is a beautiful thing in that it helps provide a sense of satisfaction. With exercise, your brain will store more dopamine in it, which means you have a feel-good storage on tap. Exercise alone provides your brain with endorphins and helps regulate all the neurotransmitters as well. One neurotransmitter, norepinephrine, can work as an antidepressant in that it wakes up the brain and improves self-esteem.
When you exercise, your brain will work better and create more energy for itself. Exercise also allows for the better creation of serotonin, which is the hormone that puts you in a better mood and allows for the production of melatonin when its time for bed.
Getting yourself breathing hard, sweating, and pushing your physical limits has a more significant effect on your brain than most people realize. Without it, we can become not only weak in our body, but our minds as well.
Let’s be honest; life is challenging. You are going to be hit with multiple different stressors throughout your day from your kids and wife to your boss, your computer, your car, other drivers, the list goes on and on. Each of these provides you with a different stress, but its all stress. Your mind has a different reaction to all of these, and so does your body.
Challenging yourself mentally through exercise can help prepare you for these stressors. Again, mentally challenging is different than physically challenging. Setting out on a linear path for your exercise plan daily using something like running, rowing, biking, etc., can be made physically demanding but usually will only provide one stressor. As you progress in this field, your brain has to do less to combat that stressor.
Putting yourself through constantly varied functional exercises performed at relatively high intensity will force your body to adapt to new stressors daily, all while gaining the aerobic exercise needed to produce the good stuff that your brain and body need to be healthy.
Anyone who has read my posts or watched my videos knows I believe that any exercise is good exercise. You know I don’t let people say, “I only did X today,” when logging scores because people, “Only sat on the couch today.” Mindset is a big part of life because, again, life is challenging. Having something to fall back on to help relieve stress and prepare you for the constantly varied daily stressors is how you work to having true freedom.