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Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 067


Life's a beach (or should be!): you've not quite tasted the great outdoors until you've walked (or run) along a South Island beach

There's an article on Mindfood.com (from December) which essentially tells you why you should not stop exercising. Of course it was timed to encourage you not to sit on your backside all Christmas, but the points are valid any time. And when someone says exercise I think of two things - firstly my current sport - badminton, and secondly anything outdoors. Surely exercise & fresh air should be synonymous?

I've said before that I find it harder to keep off weight in winter, because it's harder to get motivated. Increased sunlight levels & higher temperatures somehow combine to make it easier to keep away from the comfort food and get into the great outdoors. Then, keeping up regular exercise allows us to manage our cravings better. In the article, Dr Richard Keegan, an associate professor in sports and exercise psychology at the University of Canberra, says, "When people are exercising regularly, they have more healthy food cravings. When people have an active lifestyle they don't crave fatty foods as much." Fitness of any kind has an enormous effect on your mood and serotonin levels and changes in energy regulation occur quickly when you stop exercising. If you stop your regular fitness routine, you can experience dips in mood, heightened anxiety levels and more noticeable irritability.

According to Dr Keegan, exercise can "reduce most of the negative mental states and some symptoms of depression and anxiety, and you have better sleep regulation. Usually, you'll see an improved mood, slightly elevated energy levels and you do get some cognitive changes in self-esteem." And according to Professor David Luban from the University of Newcastle, the social and spiritual connectedness you receive from exercise is really important. "We know that there are benefits of doing exercise outdoors that are above and beyond doing exercise in a gymn. When you're outdoors your brain relaxes and you're distracted from your troubles," he said. "When we live in a built-up environment you get stimulus overload, but when you go running outdoors your body and brain unwind a bit and connect with nature."

So, there you have it. Official stamp of approval to get out into our beautiful New Zealand landscapes & commune with nature. You can run, bicycle, swim, fly or simply walk. But just do it (do I have to put copyright Nike after that statement?)!

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