Fitness makes millions of people around the world happier, since it brings out feel-good endorphins and immerses them in activities (both cardio and strength) that 'wrap them in the present moment’ and help take their mind off daily worries. Despite its many benefits, exercise is something that many people begin and then abandon just a few months after starting. Often, work stress and a lack of time can contribute to a less-active lifestyle than you may like. When it comes to physical activity, the key is consistency throughout one’s lifetime. Consider the following habits to enhance the effects that long-term fitness can have on your life.
One habit that can really up the beneficial effects of your workout involves simply taking it outside! Research undertaken at The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry found that exercising in the Great Outdoors shows significant improvements in mental well-being and a greater sense of revitalisation and positive engagement than exercising outdoors. Participants in the review study also reported greater enjoyment from exercise in nature. Another University of Anglia study found that being outside reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes. Working out in the great outdoors is a habit that extends lifespans and increases one’s quality of life. Best of all, you can do just about everything you can do at a gym at your nearby park. Think running, resistance exercises or yoga; take advantage of a work break to try out these healthful activities, and encourage colleagues and employees to do the same.
When you exercise is almost as important as the type of exercise you carry out, so try to set the alarm a little earlier so you have time to work out before heading to the office. A 2019 University of Bath study showed that when you exercise prior to breakfast, you burn more fat, improve your body’s response to insulin, and lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Over a six-week period, athletes who exercised prior to their first meal of the day also showed a greater increase in important proteins - specifically, those which transport glucose to the muscles. This was the case despite the fact that both the test and control groups took part in identical training sessions and consumed the same diets.
Sometimes, it is precisely when you most dread putting on your trainers and going for a run that you should do just that. As found in a study by researchers at the UT Southwestern Medical Center, exercise can be just as important when you are depressed as finding an effective medication is. The researchers suggest that in order to make the most of the mental benefits of fitness, people need to commit to a schedule, but also resume activities if they do stop for any reason, without feeling discouraged. They should also embrace variation so as to stay motivated, exercise with a friend, and rely on someone to motivate and guide them when they are reticent to exercise. If you have work colleagues you call friends, perhaps suggesting a group workout might be the way to go. Employers can also consider arranging for a fitness instructor to lead a group in the workplace.
Not all exercise makes us equally happy. Those that foster a sense of connection, for instance, are definitely at the top of the list when it comes to long-term happiness. As found by researchers from Harvard University, many modern millennials are embracing spirituality in classes such as CrossFit. In the report, How We Gather, they state that what makes CrossFit work so well is that it has as big a focus on community as it has on fitness. “The leaders see themselves as tending an orchard, not building a skyscraper. That orchard is made up of affiliates committed to a culture of fitness, empathy, and reach.” If management at the office is so inclined, ask them if they might consider offering a group CrossFit class for staff.
In order for fitness to truly change lives, it needs a sustained commitment. Any athlete or fitness lover needs to create a personalised regime that takes into account the requirements they need to truly enjoy their chosen workout mode. Working out alongside work colleagues or friends can also make your workout more fun and meaningful, but if you are a person who does their best solo, by all means, choose to fly that way.