According to trainers, there are certain signs you can look out for to cue you in on the fact that your body is itching for a workout—because, after all, regular exercise is good for you. "It has many physical and mental benefits," says Ridge Davis, an NCSF-certified trainer and Puma-sponsored athlete based in Los Angeles. "Consistent movement will make you happier and reduce your overall level of stress and tension. Also, having strong healthy joints and muscle tissues contribute to living a higher quality of life." And if you aren't moving enough (or at least, as much as your body wants you to), you're missing out on all these benefits.
Ahead, he shares three impossible-to-ignore signs that it's time to spike that heart rate. Your body (and brain) will thank you for it.
1. You're feeling low on energy
When your usual cup of coffee just isn't cutting it, try getting sweaty instead. The reason? When you work out, your brain releases endorphins, which can help jolt you awake even better than caffeine. "Endorphins are those feel-good hormones that are released as a result of exercise and important components for an energizing workout," Jonathan Leary, DC, chiropractor, exercise science expert, and the founder of Remedy Place, previously told Well+Good.
"They are responsible for keeping you awake and also contribute to positive changes in your mental health," he adds. Try dancing it out with a little dance cardio (which, bonus, helps to combat brain fog), or flow through a few yoga poses like sun salutations, backbends, and twists, which are known for their energizing effects.
2. You're having trouble focusing
If you've been sitting at your desk staring at the same email for hours on end, it's a good sign that it's time to get moving—at the very least, for the sake of booting that brain fog. Aerobic exercises like walking, running, and biking activate the dopamine receptors in your brain, and dopamine is known to play a big role in cognitive function and learning. Plus, spiking your heart rate improves your circulation, and getting more blood and oxygen in your brain can help to boost your thinking. The good news? You only need two minutes of cardio to get those juices flowing again.
3. Your muscles are super stiff
"Stiffness often occurs when we're not exercising enough, so the best way to prevent stiffness is by being regularly active," Katie Sun Worrall, DPT, a physical therapist at Zion Physical Therapy, previously told Well+Good. "Whether it's walking, running, yoga, cycling, lifting weights, or another exercise of your choice, all of it is good for you and your health in the long run." In other words, if you're dealing with WFH-induced aches and pains, the best way to remedy them is with a solid sweat session (followed, of course, by a stretch).
Need a little inspiration to get moving? Check out the video below.
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