exercise mental health

The Northern Beaches of Sydney have a multitude of sport and exercise possibilities on offer. So why take the time to exercise? There are many reasons.

Regular exercise is a proven antidote to anxiety, stress and depression. Exercise reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone that is released in response to fear or stress during the flight or fight response by the sympathetic nervous system.

The flight or fight response is an automatic response in our bodies when we perceive a threat. Our bodies cannot determine whether a threat is real or perceived. Prolonged flight or fight response leads to adrenal exhaustion and stress overload.  Remember that while the sympathetic system is activated for us to run or deal with a threat, its opposite partner, the parasympathetic system, is not available for digestion, detoxification, cell repair and building immunity,

Prolonged elevated cortisol levels may lead to weight gain, increased anxiety, depression, reduced immunity, and increase in blood pressure.  Exercise is also a serotonin booster. Serotonin is a natural occurring chemical in the brain that is responsible for regulating mood, appetite, sleep and memory functions. Regular exercise is a mood elevator as it raises levels of serotonin.

To reap these benefits of exercise, it is recommended that we actually get some most days. Finding time to get outdoors and healthy is an investment in our mental wellbeing. For those looking for inspiration, here are a few things on offer in Sydney. Some ideas include;

Surfing, paddle-boarding and snorkeling

Coastal walks such as Manly to Spit bridge, or dare you cross the big bridge to do the Bondi to Coogee walk!

Outdoor pools (both salt and fresh) around town offer hours of fun for children as well.

Joining a team sport such as sailing, tennis or cricket, can make new friends as well.  There is evidence for the health benefits of socializing as well.

These are but a few ideas! For those of you who remember the old fitness campaign featuring Norm with the catchphrase “Life – be in it!”  This still rings true decades later.  We live in paradise, so lets get out there!

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