Why exercise will help seniors relax

We never think of relaxation and exercise as linked but new research from the Harvard Medical School proves that they are. Experience with our Toronto based personal training clients shows that increasing exercise levels makes people feel more energized, less stressed and sleep better. Harvard Medical School explains there are several explanations for these benefits, some chemical, others behavioural.

The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for the “runner’s high” and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts.
Behavioural factors also contribute to the emotional benefits of exercise. As your waistline shrinks and your strength and stamina increase, your self-image will improve. You’ll earn a sense of mastery and control, of pride and self-confidence.
Exercise and sports also provide opportunities to get away from it all and to either enjoy some solitude or to make friends and build networks. Exercise is play and recreation; when your body is busy, your mind will be distracted from the worries of daily life and will be free to think creatively.

Almost any type of exercise will help. Many people find that using large muscle groups in a rhythmic, repetitive fashion works best; call it “muscular meditation,” and you’ll begin to understand how it works. Walking and jogging are prime examples. Even a simple 20-minute stroll can clear the mind and reduce stress. But some people prefer vigorous workouts that burn stress along with calories. That’s one reason elliptical machines are so popular. And the same stretching exercises that help relax your muscles after a hard workout will help relax your mind as well.

One great example of a repetitive exercise that has the benefits of fresh outside air is Nordic Walking. Vintage Fitness is planning to start a Nordic Walking class in September in Etobicoke so send me a note if you are interested to erin@vintagefitness.ca

Good Luck!

Erin Billowits
Vintage Fitness

Serving the whole of the Greater Toronto Area