Get Physical, Stay Sharp

The alarm goes off at 5am, I grumble and roll out of bed. I walk into a few walls on the way to the shower then grab my stuff making a bee line to the gym, still grumbling.

Thats the typical start to my Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday which I’ve beenĀ mostly keeping to for the last three years.

Why do I get up so early? Why would I then start my day with pain?

I’m a huge believer that an active mind cannot exist in an inactive body.

The wake-up-early-go-to-gym routine makes me feel much more alert, involved and generally committed.

When walking out of the gym you feel a great sense of motivation, empowerment and desire to seize the day.

In contrast, when I am absent from the gym for extended periods there is a noticeable change in mood.

It’s quite obvious to those around me too. I become less motivated, more tired and am easier to agitate.

Whilst that’s far from good it is beneficial to realise that if you are performing below your peak it may very well be due to a lack of physical exercise.

Fortunately I’m not the only one with this infliction, at a dinner one night one of our colleagues was commenting that he hadn’t been for his morning swim for the past two weeks. He was having problems focussing for a full day at work and when at home his wife found him increasingly annoying, tense and moody. His wife then literally walked him out of their house telling him not to come back until he has gone for a swim.

Whilst amusing for everyone other than his wife it does show the impact exercise can have on people’s mind.

Exercise truly does keep you mentally sharp, it can change lives and it is a positive cycle that continually builds upon itself.

Once you start exercising it is very hard to give it up, meaning that your brain will continue to reap the benefits.

The key benefits I’ve noticed that help keep your brain active through getting physical are:

Sense of Achievement

  • Beating your personal best is an amazing feeling.
  • You start out strong, thinking its easy then hit the wall, wondering why you do this to yourself, having to force yourself and push through the pain, just inching under your PB.
  • Pushing yourself harder is horribly difficult, painful and physically draining. Which is what makes the achievement, and the reflection upon it, all the more enjoyable.

Motivation

  • When you arrive at work after a solid workout a strange sense of motivation rolls over you.
  • Knowing that you were up at an unholy hour to make the most of the morning encourages you to keep making the most of the day.
  • I’ve had many days where I arrive at work and I’m super pumped for some unknown reason; it’s the motivation caused from smashing it at the gym.

Physiology

  • It’s no secret that the extra blood flow and benefits of exercise do not just last for the day, maintaining your activity level has long term benefits that helps you continue to remain active.
  • It has always struck me as odd how the more energy you put in at the gym, the more energy you get back.

Being mindful of the relationship between being active and alert can help you better manage your stress and emotions.

Hitting the gym may not be for everyone (at first, it wasn’t for me) but if you have an important meeting or event, remember to get out beforehand and get moving, it will help improve your mood and performance.

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