Before you decide that being a couch potato is what the doctor ordered, you should ask yourself if exercise could actually improve this lousy day. The answer might surprise you.
You are sad and depressed so you skip the gym. Weather you are suffering from chronic depression or the events of the day have you feeling blue, exercise can help. Just 5 minutes of exercise can boost your mood. Strenuous physical activity causes your brain to release endorphins into you system. Endorphins are a type of neurotransmitter that give the brain a since of euphoria.
In addition to short term relief, exercise has been shown to alleviate long-term depression. A 2007 study published in the journal: Psychosomatic Medicine concluded that the effects of exercise were comparable to antidepressant medication in the treatment of major depressive disorder.
You have an important project at work or a huge test you need to prepare for. Don’t skip your workout! If you have a brain-draining mountain of work at your desk, you need the benefits of exercise. Dr. John Ratey, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard, has found that just 8-12 minutes of sweating can improve your performance on complex cognitive tasks. In fact, exercisers experience 2-3 hours of heightened focus after a workout.
You have a cold and you need your rest. A minor upper respiratory infection might keep you away from the gym but it should not condemn you to a 48 hour vigil on your couch.
20-30 minutes of low intensity intentional movement, like a walk, could actually make you feel better and may offer you additional healing benefits. If you keep your activity level low enough to avoid panting there is no reason to believe that light exercise will compromise your immune system.
You had trouble sleeping the night before. If you are sleep deprived you may want to reduce the intensity of your workout but skipping it altogether might be a mistake. Your afternoon workout could be your ticket to a good night’s sleep.
Getting in a workout five to six hours before bedtime will raise the body’s core temperature. By the time you are ready for bed, your body’s temperature will drop back to normal. This change in your temperature is a signal to the brain that it is time to sleep.
When life gets off track, a good workout could put things right. Even if you have to modify your original plans a short workout or a less intense workout is often better then skipping exercise all together. When in doubt, don’t skip your workout!