Why is it that we always feel so much better mentally and physically after going to the gym?

Sometimes finding the energy/time/motivation to go to the gym can be a struggle, but rarely do you ever regret going. Instead, majority of the time, you end up leaving the gym feeling better than when you started.  Ask any “gym-junkie” and they will tell you that they love going to the gym because of how it makes them feel.

The reason for this is due to many interconnecting factors surrounding our physical, mental, social and spiritual health. These factors tend to interact on a dynamic time scale. Regular gym attendance can give us immediate benefits as well as impact our long-term health.

In today’s blog we break down some of these benefits and analyse their interactions over time.

Immediately

  • Social Interaction
    • As soon as you walk into a gym, you begin to interact with other people – even without speaking to each other there is a sense of comradery and connection. It doesn’t feel as lonely as exercising on your own at home/outdoors.

  • Health-Positive Environment
    • A gym is a health-positive environment. Those that are working in or using the gym tend to be health-conscious and like-minded individuals. This can be very inspiring as well as helpful when making a lifestyle change. As exercise improves physical and mental health conditions, gyms can be seen as an environment that favour positive health outcomes.
  • Improved Cognitive Function
    • After a workout we think clearer and feel more energised. This leads to better performance throughout the day.
  • Mood
    • Exercise releases good hormones that help us to feel happier. It is also a great way to reduce stress/tune out from the world. Exercise is an important way of managing Anxiety/Depression and other Mood disorders.
  • Sleep
    • Exercise helps us to sleep better. With better sleep comes an array of benefits including improved mental health, energy-levels, mood and mental performance. We are more likely to exercise again and hence a positive cycle is created.

Short-term (Weeks)

  • Build relationships/friendships
    • Over time you may start to talk to people in the gym such as trainers, gym-goers and even the receptionist. These relationships form an important component of social health. They help us to feel connected to our greater community as well as helping us to interact with people who are outside our normal circle.
  • Structured Environment
    • Having structure in your routine plus an environment that supports this structure make it easier to stay motivate and commit to long-term change. We function better with routine and gym workouts allow us to stay consistent with our exercise year-round.
  • Improved Strength and Function
    • Resistance training leads to improved strength and better function (ability to do everyday activities or what we need to be able to do for work etc).
  • Improved Cardio Fitness
    • Cardio training will lead to improved fitness. This means that we can “go for longer” before needing to stop and rest. It is also important in reducing our risk of heart disease.
  • Support
    • Gyms can provide extra support through personal trainers, Exercise Physiologists, and gym staff. There is also the added connection to other gym-users or friends/family who go along with you. Gyms also offer classes, 1-on-1 assistance.

Long-Term (Months-Years)

  • Sense of Community
    • After going to the gym for a while, you become part of your gym community. With this comes a great sense of social familiarity and belonging. You may have friendships or close acquaintances within the gym and this also makes it more enjoyable. This is both beneficial to our social health but also our sense of self and hence spiritual health.
  • Prevent Chronic Disease
    • Muscle mass and improved Cardiorespiratory fitness are two very important, protective factors for our body. Muscle helps with our metabolism and takes up sugars from our blood meaning it can help manage insulin-resistance and prevent diabetes. Low Cardiorespiratory fitness is strongly linked to Cardiovascular disease (heart disease). Exercise can also help prevent many mental health and cognitive health conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Weight management
    • Long-term cardio and resistance training contribute to helping you maintain a healthy weight. At the gym you can burn calories (energy) through cardio and improve your muscle mass (and hence metabolism) through resistance training. Gym use is also therefore highly connected to improved self-esteem.
  • Improved Ageing
    • Exercising as we get older is an important part of healthy aging. Resistance training is essential for maintaining strength and function (Ability to do everyday things) and preventing falls. The gym also helps us to keep our bones healthy by allowing individuals to perform weight bearing, high impact activities.

 

Call Longevity to speak to an Exercise Physiologist about getting started at the gym. 1300 964 002 

 

By Ashleigh Mead

Ashleigh Mead