Wellfie Wednesday Tip #60: Beyond the Traditional Benefits of Exercise!

Happy #WellfieWednesday friends!

     This week’s tip is brought to you by Eric (@Eric_in_AmERICa) and his take on the benefits of exercise. At this point the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of exercise have been well documented in numerous studies and articles, including our previous “Fitness vs Fatness” Wellfie Wednesday post brilliantly written by Aaron Perez. A simple Pubmed search on “benefits of physical activity” brings back over 16,000 results highlighting everything from improved cardiovascular function and decreased risk of falls, to improved symptoms of depression and decreased risk of dementia. However, I believe many of these articles miss one of the most important physical, mental, and emotional benefits of exercise: Building Resilience.

Merriam-Webster dictionary lists two definitions for the term Resilience:

1. The capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress

2. An ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

     Let’s start with how exercise builds physical resilience in the body. Without getting too deep into the physiology, exercise is essentially the process of putting stress on muscles, tendons, bone, and other structures in order to break them down on a micro level so that your body can regenerate stronger tissues, capable of withstanding this increased load. The first definition refers directly to physical resilience as it presents in the body and how it can, with consistency, go on to improve strength, power, endurance, and other physical attributes.

     Physical activity builds greater mental and emotional resilience on several levels as it pertains to the second definition. The first step is the choice to move. Choosing not to exercise is easy and it requires little effort. Instead choosing to get up and move is already a small victory toward building resilience by deciding not to go with the easiest choice. As described above, the act of exercising introduces stress to your body and, over time, your tolerance for stress increases. Here’s where the magic happens- our brain is incredibly designed to transfer this effect from physical stress and also applies it to psychological and emotional stress! And so, as your strength, endurance, and other physical attributes improve, your tolerance for psychological and emotional stress also improve. Put simply, a hard workout makes it easier to tolerate other hard tasks in your life. Not to mention the endorphin boost that typically comes following a bout of exercise is a pretty beneficial mood enhancer! Check out the infographic below for more! 

Stay strong, both mentally AND physically, friends!

     Give this week’s tip a try and let us know what you think! As always, thanks for all of the #WellfieWednesday support. And be sure to tag the WW crew members in your post (@PBernerSPT@Eric_in_AmERICa@AaronPerezPT@DianaKlatt) and keep the wave of healthy change going!

- WW Crew