What’s not to love about the holiday season? Most of us have some time off work and catch up with loved ones, usually over delicious food and drink. Tasty treats are lined up and quicker than you can say “eggnog”, all your good intentions can be thrown out of the window.
Exercise is also often overlooked during this period. It’s a bit too easy to find excuses to stay curled up in bed rather than pounding the pavement. And we all deserve a break every now and then, right?
Unfortunately, when the holiday season is over, we are flung back into the harsh reality of everyday life. This can be a drag, especially if you’re carrying around a few extra pounds and feeling lazy due to a lack of exercise.
Getting back into your routine of healthy eating and exercise can be a challenge. But sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the benefits we reap when all those post-exercise endorphins are released.
- Enhanced self-esteem
When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. The feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric”. That feeling, known as a “runner's high”, can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life. You feel good instantly and have a more positive self-image.
- Decreased anxiety and stress
When endorphins are released, feelings of happiness are created. Studies have shown that exercise can alleviate symptoms in people who are clinically depressed. If you are feeling stressed about returning to work, a brisk walk, a group fitness class or yoga all help your body and your sense of wellbeing.
- Improved sleep
Good sleep is necessary for optimal health. Chances are that you’ve had a few late nights during the holiday season and this will be contributing to the post-holiday blues. For some people, a moderate workout can provide the same effect as a sleeping pill – even for those with insomnia. Being active enables our bodies to operate on a cycle of work, rest, recover and can lead to improved sleep.
Endorphins are also produced when you laugh. Laughing with friends is the best medicine so why not double the endorphin kick and head to the gym with a friend. Research shows that the key to sticking with fitness is all about starting slowly and doing it with friends1. It’s even easier if you start with something simple like an indoor cycling class.