"It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigour." Marcus Tullius Cicero

There are many reasons why physical activity is good for your body – having a healthy heart and improving your joints and bones are just two, but what is becoming more apparent with a lot of the research being created in the last ten years is the connection between exercise and good mental health.

Improved self-esteem is a key psychological benefit of regular exercise. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.

Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, 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.

This morning I pulled myself out of bed at 8am, it’s the holidays so I thought I’d get a lie in.  Anyway I had planned to meet my good pal at one of the best trail locations in Ireland – Belfast’s Black Mountain.  If you are in the area and you haven’t experienced what its like to run or walk one of the routes up there, you don’t know what you are missing.  Anyhow as always it didn’t disappoint. 

The route we took today was a 6 mile trail, through pathways, fields, rocky ground and slushy mushy verges to get to the summit.  On reaching the top a great feeling came over me, similar to scoring a goal in football or finishing a marathon, a runners high as they say.  A great feeling of accomplishment.  This wasn’t just a passive feeling it was physical and I’ve no doubt it was a mad rush of endorphins being created and pushed through the neuro transmitters in my brain, amazing really, and it didn't cost a penny!!!

Regular exercise has been proven to help people manage many conditions including, stress, anxiety, OCD, depression, addiction, MS, improve sleep amongst a range of other ailments and complaints.  A point worth making now is that over the last few years it would appear that the health benefits of regular exercise is actually getting through to people as more tend to be aiming for that 10KM run and other goals where they spend a period of time training for etc.…. This can only be a good thing.

A good friend of mine runs a local hospital and the facts of the matter is that more and more people are falling sick due to many factors.  The hospitals are full to the rafters, people are regularly waiting in trolleys in hallways, our GP’s are working sixty plus hour weeks, are completely exhausted and many now themselves very unhealthy as a result. In short the health service across the UK and Ireland are now effectively bust. 

The plan to tackle the current health crisis and improve our wellbeing is broken, badly broken and unless there is a new approach and direction taken, starting with our governments approach to the key issues, the role schools can play and in particular the role of parenting, things are going to get completely out of control in this regard over the next decade.

In my opinion the only thing more important to each of us than implementing regular exercise into our lifestyles is nutrition and that is something I will be blogging about in the next few days.  You only have to look at the science and the data to understand the connection now between the food we eat and the role it is playing in how many people are getting sick.  Its absolutely astounding to watch as the agricultural and food companies pour billions into advertising every day to play direct and subliminal messages everywhere to influence our food choices.  More of this later, in greater detail, however if you start educating yourselves around food and and exercise a few times a week, you will be giving the cells in your body every chance of recovering and realising your potential.  You will also be feeding the mitochondria with the right nutrients creating sparks of energy and healthy minds and bodies.

One thing that really has dismayed me over the last few years is the increasing role pharmaceutical companies are playing in society and how they are using their power to influence the medical profession, media, all of us and also charity organizations.  There is no magic bullet tablet that is going to make you feel better, improve your physiology and your all round health.  It’s a load of nonsense, and it’s very frustrating that this simple message of eating well and to move more is still hard to get out there. 

One thing that has encouraged me greatly over the last eighteen months as I have started to look into this area, is the increasing number of highly regarded medical doctors across the world who are now advocating food and exercise as the number one way to fight disease, including diabetes and heart disease.  This is quite unusual given the fact that our doctors spend less than 5% of their college lives learning about the benefits of proper nutrition and how it can actually go on to prevent and fight disease. 

In closing it’s hard to ignore the research and I’m looking forward over the next few days of the holidays to getting at least thirty minutes of exercise in every day.  I know my body and my mind will thank me for it, why don’t you give it a go yourself.





Conor DevineComment