No matter who you are, and no matter what your daily life is like, your body needs exercise and your body needs sleep. These are facts of the human experience that most people realize, but it's hard in today's world to set aside time to exercise and rest well.
When a person is under chronic stress, good sleep can be hard to come by. But by incorporating exercise and other stress-reduction techniques into daily life, we can give the body and mind their best chance for a good night’s rest.
The physical benefits of exercise are well-reported, but many people aren’t aware of how working out our bodies benefits our minds. Exercise helps people manage anxiety while remaining calmer.
Exercise is a natural serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Let’s dive deeper into what this means: First, serotonin is a hormone that makes us feel good. Over time, serotonin produced in the body is taken up by cells in the nervous system called neurons. When the “reuptake” process is inhibited, serotonin molecules spend more time circulating in the body, making us feel happier and calmer.
In addition, exercise decreases stress hormones in the body, including adrenaline, which is the hormone that puts us in a “fight or flight” mental state. Someone living with trauma may have too much of this hormone, and staying active can help them get this hormone back in check.
For optimal health, teenagers should be active at least five times a week. This can be playing a sport, going for a hike, using an exercise machine, or taking a workout class. Teens who are just getting started with exercise should be encouraged to find a sport or a workout they like. Schools and churches have all kinds of sports teams where teens can try out different activities to see what fits them best. The more fun a person has with their workout, the more likely they are to stick with it!
Working out tires out our muscles and helps clear the mind, two ingredients for restful sleep. Sleep is how our bodies recharge and repair. Mentally, sleep allows our brains to record memories from the day and to clear out waste that accumulates in our brain cells during daily life. Teens who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to struggle in school and to feel “down” throughout the day. Physically, sleep is when the body repairs micro-tears in our muscles that occur during exercise. Sleep helps our hunger hormones stay in balance, and it is a key component of having a strong immune system.
As with all health practices, building habits is critical for keeping up with exercise and a sleep schedule. Newton's Laws state that a body in motion will stay in motion, and a body at rest will stay at rest. He was talking about physical objects, but the same holds true for the human body: A body that gets exercise will crave movement.
One of the best ways to build healthy habits in your child is leading by example. But if your child is resistant to getting out from behind a screen or establishing a healthy routine, these tips can help you speak with him or her to get to the root of the problem.
Exercise and sleep create complementary effects that lay a strong foundation for a healthy lifestyle. By helping teenagers find joy in being active and calming down to rest, you can create in them healthy habits that last a lifetime.