We all know the benefits of exercise include lower risk for heart disease, lower weight, better bone mass, better sleep quality, and higher metabolism. And experts agree that the best prescription for preventing many problems, including insomnia, is exercise.
But just as with sleep, improper exercise can lead to failure. Everyone knows that exercise is good for the body, but not many people want to do it because it doesn't seem like fun; to the contrary, "exercise," to many, seems or feels like "work," and when that occurs, you'll never get the most of out of exercising, and you won't reap its benefits to sleep, either.
Have you ever bought a gym membership with the intention of exercising on a regular basis, only to fall back into your regular routine after a few months? More than forty percent of the population drop out of their gym contracts each year, prompting gyms to spend millions to create and advertise new reasons to get you back in. The problem with this is due to a misunderstanding of why we start exercising in the first place.
It takes more than an understanding of the benefits or exercise; you must be passionate about it. Let's face it - we make time for things we want to do. So without an emotional reason, exercise simply becomes a boring routine. The desire to change is what originally prompts us to commit to exercise, but the lack of interest leaves us viewing the treadmill as nothing more than a menacing, sweat-inducing machine on which we must perform a monotonous task.
We enter today's gym with the same conditioned mindset that we experienced in childhood P.E. class. To overcome this, it often helps to change your view of exercise to one of play, such as when we were children. What if you could participate in a fun activity - one that you enjoyed as a child, let's say. Would that entice you to get moving a little more, with the added result that after "playtime," you'll be able to fall into that restful, carefree childhood sleep?
Remember, you can rewire and reset your brain-to-body mechanisms; just train them to work a certain way by how you perceive them and how you think. It's all connected - and it's all possible.
To compare gym exercises with energy-equivalent activities, I have listed a 6 typical gym exercise on the left, and a similar activity that rouses the heart rate to the same degree on the right.
All 6 exercises are all based on thirty minutes of activity, and each one will lead you to a more peaceful, deep slumber:
Pilates - Horseback riding
Stair-Stepper - Casual soccer
Stationary Bike - Backpacking
Calisthenics - Repelling
Basketball - Rock climbing
Elliptical machine - Cross-country skiing
Martial arts is another positive stress workout that is growing in popularity. Even during a recession, it amazes me that I continue to see martial arts businesses continue to open and thrive. Or how about dancing, yoga classes, swimming, tennis, or table tennis?
Just walking for thirty minutes a day, four times a week, reduces the stress that enables you to experience quality sleep. Regular aerobic activity reduces anxiety whilst increasing dopamine and serotonin levels, making you feel happier, more confident, and more relaxed. That means you'll feel "naturally tired" at bedtime.