A guest blog by Brad Miller, Marine Corps veteran, TheMilitaryGuide.org
Staying fit can greatly improve your quality of life. After a long days’ work, many people find it challenging to build fitness into their schedule. It’s important to start instilling healthy habits into your new routine as soon as possible, though. Fitness helps your body and brain to stay fit, which provides great benefits not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally.
The benefits of fitness
If it’s been a while since you felt the rush of a great workout or pushed through exhaustion and got a second wind, here’s a reminder of some of the top ways exercise helps your body and brain. The benefits apply to everyone.
- Improves sleep: Insomnia is more prevalent than ever, which can present problems in day-to-day life. Staying active and keeping fit helps to improve your sleep in a few different ways: Exercising depletes energy levels in your body, allowing you to stay asleep longer during the night. Staying active also brings higher-quality sleep, increasing the amount of time your body spends in the restorative phases of deep sleep with fewer periods of waking.
- Helps fight depression: While it’s true that the links between depression, anxiety, and fitness aren’t completely clear yet, if you’re someone who suffers from depression or anxiety, starting and sticking to a fitness routine may help lessen your symptoms. Working out releases endorphins in the body that make you feel good, and focusing on physical activity at least temporarily takes your mind off of your worries.
- Helps retain mobility: One of the most effective ways to keep your joints, muscles, and limbs moving fluidly is to exercise regularly. You’ll need to work on cardio and stretching as well as strength training to most effectively retain mobility. Walking, running, swimming, resistance training, and yoga are all good exercises to help keep you moving.
- Relieves stress: Nowadays, most people face the unfortunate obligation of dealing with stress on a daily basis. Integrating exercise into your life can be a great way to reduce that stress. Physical activity flushes out chemicals that maintain tension, replacing them with endorphins that help the body and mind relax. Also, the deeper sleep that you’ll get as a result of exercising helps your body to recharge for the next day; when you feel rested the next day, you’ll feel less stressed.
- Helps control weight: Fitness is also important because it helps control weight. During physical activity, you burn the calories taken in by eating. Working out stimulates your body to burn calories, which helps you lose weight and keep it off.
- Extends life span: Exercising regularly has been proven to increase life span. In fact, the benefits that come from exercise are seen regardless of a person’s age, sex, and weight. And your workout need not be extremely strenuous; even taking a brisk walk on a daily basis improves your health and increases your life span.
- Increases libido: It’s true: Exercise is good for your sex drive. Through reducing stress, combating depression, toning the body’s systems, and helping to improve sleep, exercise can actually boost your libido.
- Benefits the brain: If you want to keep your brain fit, it’s important to keep your body fit, as well. In fact, exercise is as good for the brain as it is for the body — and aerobic exercise is particularly beneficial. This type of exercise decreases the brain’s likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia or memory loss. The brains of people who exercise regularly show a greater volume in the areas associated with reasoning and memory.
- Replaces negative habits: At the end of the day, fitness is just a great habit to practice. Instilling good habits is important, not only for their obvious benefits, but also because they can replace worse habits that damage your well-being. For example, trading smoking for running and drinking for yoga can greatly improve your quality of life, reducing the effects of your bad habits while offering the benefits of participating in good ones.
Making fitness work
Staying motivated can be a struggle, but you can set yourself up for success by making exercise convenient or incorporating it into your daily life. Here are some ways to do that:
- Have a gym close to home: If you have to travel across town to the gym, the hassle and travel time can give chip away at your resolve. If your gym is close to home — or better yet, if you can find an apartment with a gym on-site — you’ll end up feeling more motivated to go to the gym because it’s easily accessible. Many rental communities offer state-of-the-art gyms with all the essential equipment, as fitness facilities are among the top amenities that apartment-hunters seek.
- Take advantage of discounts: Many gyms, restaurants, sporting goods stores, and retail stores offer discounts for seniors, locals, referrals, and more. Taking advantage of these discounts can save you a lot of money over time, so don’t be afraid to inquire about them when you visit a new place.
- Find an outdoor hobby: If a gym-style workout isn’t your cup of tea, consider taking up some outdoor hobbies. Whether you’re biking, playing a sport, geocaching, rock climbing or just going out for a hike, getting outside and staying active is an incredibly important thing to do for the human body and mind. Find a hobby that interests you, and it’s likely you’ll feel even more motivated to get outside.
- Do physically demanding work: If you’re one of the automotive industry professionals who gained experience using heavy equipment, consider a job that requires more movement. Jobs in construction, landscaping, maintenance, and other physically demanding areas keep you moving — and many offer the added benefit of working outdoors, which can help your physical health, as well.
Some resources worth checking out
Sometimes getting a fitness routine planned out and set in place can be difficult. If you need some help, there are several places you can consult. Ben offers a variety of physical health and wellbeing services, available to members. They also help those with mental health and social health issues. Also, consider looking into the financial health service offered by Ben.
At the end of the day
Fitness is important for a number of reasons. Not only does it keep your body looking and feeling good, but it also helps improve your mood, strengthens your brain, and helps you sleep — all of which improve your quality of life.
Brad Miller is a Marine Corps veteran who comes from a military family with a long tradition of service. He and his brother created The Military Guide as a “straight shooters handbook” to provide helpful resources to service men and women at every stage of their military careers – from those first timid steps into the recruiter’s office to walking proudly off base with a DD-214 as a newly minted veteran and beyond.