I wrote this blog for Tesco Magazine in the new year and they're promoting it again in light of the London Marathon yesterday...
Are you pledging to turn over a new leaf and shed those extra Christmas pounds? Fitness enthusiast and blogger Phoebe Doyle talks about the mood-boosting benefits of regular exercise
Making resolutions is pointless; over 75% of them are cast aside within weeks leaving us feeling disappointed and even more despondent than before.
The problem is these once-a-year gym fanatics usually have weight loss as their target and this is riddled with obstacles. Firstly, when people embark on a training regime they often feel hungrier and eat more because they feel they deserve to do so.
Secondly weight loss goals take an age as muscle weight can distort things and fat is notoriously stubborn to shift. Once the goal isn’t being met it’s inevitable that the person becomes downhearted. Asking themselves: “What’s the point?”
I’m not a stranger to weight-loss goals – I’m only human and a female one at that. But I know that a target of shifting half a stone won’t get you to the gym at dawn. A stronger incentive is the mood boost – the feeling exercise can offer.
When it comes to exercise and mood there’s some serious biology at play. Exercise decreases the stress hormones, such as cortisol, and increases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, and when they are released through exercise, your mood is boosted naturally. As well as endorphins, exercise also releases adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine.
The first time you hit the gym or pound the pavements you’ll come back energised. It may seem bizarre that spending energy actually means you end up with more but, trust me, you do.
Now with two young children exercise also offers me an excuse to escape. Friends will often ask me how I find the will-power, the motivation. Are you kidding? Clearly squabbles over breakfast cereals are far more interesting than they are at our place!
The escape issue isn’t just about chore-avoidance though. When I exercise, I can think. I get ideas for work, plan what needs to be done and the clear-headedness I experience through time on my own – dare I say ‘me time’? – allows me to draw conclusions to issues that have previously appeared un-resolvable.
So for me exercise is a boost, a natural high and a good excuse to escape. This year instead of hopping onto the scales when you get back from the gym, just ask yourself: “How do I feel?”
Read on the Tesco site here.