Everyone knows fitness can boost your stamina, tone your body and lengthen your lifespan. There are other effects of it, both good and bad, however, that are often misunderstood. Here are the surprising ways regular exercise can impact your life.
1. Different sleep schedule
Fitness can either improve or worsen your sleep cycle; it all depends on when you exercise. A morning or afternoon workout is great for tiring out your muscles and forcing them to crave the restorative nature of sleep once bedtime comes around. An evening run, in comparison, can interrupt your circadian rhythm by raising your heart rate, blood pressure and internal temperature at an inopportune time. Bedtime is when your body begins to slow these systems down so exercise can confuse your brain into feeling awake. Try to keep your workouts at least three hours before bedtime so your body has enough time to wind back down for sleep.
2. Personal grooming
For better or worse, physical activity can affect your grooming habits. On the positive side, a high fitness level can help circulate nutrients in order to clear and brighten your skin. Extremely vigorous workouts and tight ponytails, however, can cause strain on hair follicles and even lead to hair loss. To avoid noticeable damage, make sure you’re not overworking your body every day of the week. Take a day or two between especially tough exercises to try some low impact workouts in order to encourage muscle and hair root recovery.
3. Hormonal changes
Ever heard of runner’s high? To those who don’t enjoy running, it may sound like a myth, but physical activity can actually make you happier. Exercise regulates hormone levels which can improve metabolism and lower stress levels. It also causes the body to release feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin, endorphins and dopamine to boost mood shortly after moderate exercise. Be sure to keep your exercises consistent, intense and different in order to keep your hormone balances healthy and boosted.
Keep in mind, though, that your body does need to rest occasionally. Overtraining can actually cause more fatigue and stress, throwing your hormonal balances off kilter. Listen to your body: if you start to feel too sore or too tired to exercise, take a day off.
4. Changes in intimacy
Regular exercise can improve intimate relations in more ways than one. Physical activity boosts blood flow and reduces stress which can improve stamina, performance and interest in the bedroom.
It’s important, however, to keep an eye out for overtraining again: it doesn’t just affect your stress levels. Overworking the body can lower testosterone levels and ultimately decrease libido in both men and women. If you experience this, you may be pushing your body too hard. Try including a rest day or two in your weekly schedule. If you have issues that continue despite changes to your workout routine, consider speaking with a doctor about prescriptions that can help boost female libido or treat erectile dysfunction.
5. Mental stamina
A fit body leads to a healthier mind. Regular physical activity increases blood flow to the brain improving mental processes and boosting overall brain function. While all workouts will have a positive effect on the brain, aerobic exercise has been found to have the most impact on mental acuity. Try to include exercises like running, cycling or swimming that get your heart rate up to around 150 bpm. It’s also helpful to listen to music or podcasts while working out for further mental stimulation. Consider fast-paced playlists or health-related podcasts, like Nike’s Trained to distract yourself from the monotony of exercise, improve your performance, and further work out your brain.
It’s important to be sure you understand the role working out plays in your life– both the good and the bad. The key is to strike a good balance between healthy workouts and strenuous exercise. Be sure to listen to your body and understand how your routine may be helping or hurting you so you can update your lifestyle accordingly.