I stumbled upon a video about ADHD this week. You’re probably wondering what a video about ADHD has to do with exercise, but while the video focuses on ADHD, it unexpectedly shines a very bright light on the incredible perks of getting (and staying) active. In fact, it lays down some exercise facts that impressed me so much, I thought it might be helpful to you. So, if you’re still on the fence about exercise, this might finally push you off that fence and into a pair of sneakers.
As always, the written content is very helpful, but I encourage you to also watch the video because Caren does a great job of explaining the impact exercise had on her body, mind, and overall life. Here’s the scoop from Caren’s perspective:
The Journey of an Exercise Skeptic
Back when I was 21, I wasn’t too thrilled with what I saw in the mirror. I felt invisible to guys, and carrying those extra pounds was taking a toll on my confidence. It was high time for a change, and I decided to give exercise a shot. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Starting out was tough, and I faced my fair share of challenges. But here’s the kicker—when I started seeing real progress, something incredible happened.
Not Your Typical Fitness Enthusiast
Now, let me make something clear: I’ve never been that person who’s giddy about hitting the gym. Even to this day, I don’t particularly enjoy exercising. But here’s the twist—the exercise facts cannot be denied! It’s what exercise does for my body, mind, and life that keeps me going. It’s kind of a love-hate relationship, but the love outweighs the hate. Let me walk you through how exercise turned my life around.
Physical and Mental Overhaul
My exercise journey wasn’t just about dropping pounds or sculpting a perfect body; it was about taking back control of my life. At 210 pounds, I felt like a stranger in my own skin, and I craved positive attention from others. So, I summoned the courage to lace up my sneakers and went for a run around the block, even though it gave me some brutal shin splints.
But here’s the real magic. Exercise isn’t just about physical sweat; it’s also a brain booster. The science behind it is fascinating—exercise increases blood flow to the brain, especially the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is usually a bit sluggish in folks with ADHD, like me. So, you know what happened? My decision-making improved, my organization skills got a makeover, and I became a master of impulse control.
From Chaos to Control
Imagine this: I went from drowning in debt, being a high school dropout, and working as a bartender to becoming a motivated, organized, and wiser decision-maker. It wasn’t just about shedding weight; it was about gaining a fresh perspective on life.
Sleep: The Unsung Hero
My exercise routine opened my eyes to another game-changer—sleep. I realized that getting enough rest was crucial to maintaining my newfound motivation and consistency. On days when I skimped on sleep, I’d turn into a cranky, sugar-craving, exercise-averse version of myself.
Creating a Serene Space
My journey took a turn for the better when I decided to change my living environment. I swapped my chaotic shared space for a serene apartment. This shift gave me a sense of security and peace that had been missing in my life. My tidy, organized space became my sanctuary, helping me manage my anxiety like a champ.
Yoga: My Emotional Lifesaver
Life didn’t stop tossing challenges my way. I faced one of the toughest battles—the loss of my mother. But my exercise journey had equipped me with more than just physical strength; it had given me a powerful tool for emotional resilience—yoga.
Yoga became my lifeline during those turbulent times. It helped me release pent-up emotions, soothe my nervous system, and, interestingly, manage my undiagnosed ADHD. Yoga’s calming effect on my mind was a game-changer during the storm.
So, here’s the takeaway from my journey—it’s not just about exercise; it’s about taking control of your life, finding balance, and discovering your true self. Whether you have ADHD or not, my story proves that embracing the power of movement can lead to profound and unexpected transformations in our lives. So, what are you waiting for? Lace-up those sneakers, and let’s start this amazing journey together!
Exercise Facts: The Unexpected Benefits
1. Stress Less
Had a rough day at the office? Take a breather and hit the gym or go for a walk. Exercise is like a magic stress-buster.
When you work up a sweat, your body releases a chemical called norepinephrine, which helps your brain chill out. So, don’t hold back; sweat it out and say goodbye to stress.
2. Boost Your Happiness
Running on a treadmill might sound like a chore, but it’s worth every step. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, those little happiness-makers that can turn your day around. They’re like your brain’s secret mood boosters.
Exercise Facts: Research shows that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants for improving mood. So, if you’re feeling blue, schedule some gym time—it’s like happiness on demand.
3. Elevate Your Self-Confidence
We all have those days when we need a confidence boost. Well, guess what? Exercise can help with that too! Whether you’re hitting the gym or going for a jog, physical activity can boost your self-esteem and make you feel like a superstar.
4. Embrace the Outdoors
If you want an extra dose of self-love, take your workout outside. Exercising in nature can take your self-esteem to new heights. You could go hiking, canoeing, or just a jog in the park.
Exercise Facts: Soaking up some vitamin D from the sun can lower your risk of feeling down. Why book a spa day when fresh air, sunshine, and exercise can work wonders for your confidence and happiness?
5. Preserve Your Brainpower
As we age, our brains might get a bit fuzzy, but exercise can help keep them sharp. Physical activity can create new brain cells and boost overall brain performance. Exercise Facts: Exercise increases the production of brain cells responsible for memory and learning.
6. Relieve Anxiety
Exercise triggers the release of feel-good chemicals that can calm anxiety. If you’re dealing with anxiety disorders, moderate-to-high-intensity aerobic exercise can be a game-changer. Exercise Facts: In a study of people with panic disorder, regular exercise significantly reduced anxiety symptoms.
7. Supercharge Brainpower
You don’t have to choose between brawn and brains. Cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance. So, your next workout could make you both fit and brilliant.
Exercise Facts: A study in 2019 found that exercise increases a brain-derived protein called BDNF, which supports decision-making, higher thinking, and learning.
8. Sharpen Your Memory
Regular physical activity can boost memory and enhance your ability to learn new things.
Exercising increases the production of memory-boosting cells in the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for memory and learning. Whether you’re a kid or a grown-up, exercise can help you remember things better and improve your vocabulary retention.
9. Aid in Addiction Recovery
Exercise can be a lifeline for those in addiction recovery. Physical activity releases dopamine, the “reward chemical,” just like drugs and alcohol. But here’s the difference: exercise is a healthy way to get that dopamine fix.
It can also distract from cravings when trying to quit smoking and help reset your body clock if you’re struggling with alcohol use disorder.
10. Find Relaxation
Lifting heavy weights might not seem relaxing, but have you ever dozed off after a long run or intense gym session? It’s pure bliss, right?
Moderate exercise can work as effectively as a sleeping pill, even for people with insomnia. When you exercise 5 to 6 hours before bedtime, your body’s core temperature rises and then drops, signaling that it’s time to sleep.
11. Boost Productivity
Feeling uninspired at work? The solution might be just a quick walk or jog away. Research suggests that regular exercise can boost productivity and energy levels.
Even if you have a busy schedule, squeezing in a workout during the day can help, especially during midday when your body’s circadian rhythms are just right.
12. Unleash Creativity
After a heart-pumping workout, instead of heading for a shower, reach for some colored pencils. Exercise can boost creativity and spontaneous thinking.
13. Inspire Others
Exercise isn’t a solo mission. Whether you’re playing soccer, attending a group fitness class, or going for a run with a friend, it rarely happens in isolation. And that’s a good thing.
Exercise Facts: Studies show that people perform better during exercise when paired with a workout buddy, whether from inspiration or good old competition. Being part of a team can even increase your tolerance for pain.
So, grab a workout buddy and motivate each other to reach new heights. Your exercise journey might inspire someone else to join in the fun.