When we resolve to ‘get fit’ or start an exercise regime we are usually focused on goals and changes in our body shape. But these all take time and one of the biggest reasons people stop their regime is because they feel they are wasting their time or will never reach their targets.
While the results of a health and fitness plan can’t happen overnight, there are some easy to spot signs that it is making a difference and is worth sticking to.
“Exercise causes the body to release endorphins which can reduce stress, tire you out, and boost daytime alertness, which will ensure you are tired and ready to rest by bedtime,” explains Melissa Weldon, Head of Training at Sweat It London. “So, if you are noticing that you’re getting a solid 8 hours of sleep per night, falling asleep faster or experiencing a deeper, more restful sleep, this could be a clear sign that your new regime is working.”
Take a moment to consider your energy levels in the day too. Did you used to need to reach for the coffee and biscuits at 3pm just to keep you going through the rest of the day? Did you find it impossible to do anything other than slump in front of the TV after dinner? If you are getting more done while feeling less exhausted then your fitness regime could be the reason why.
“Exercise is known to boost cardiovascular health, which allows you to have greater energy throughout the day,” adds Melissa. So if you find it easier to do your daily activities and still have energy for a gym session without feeling you need to force yourself to work out, you know it really is making a difference.
One of the very positive side effects of a good workout in the gym is that it can make you more inclined to want a workout between the sheets too! “Exercise can relieve stress and boost confidence for many – two of the main things which can disrupt your sex life,” explains Melissa. So, if you’re noticing a boost in the bedroom, this is a clear sign that your exercise routine could be paying off and that you’re doing all the right things to better yourself.
More: Why have I lost my sex drive?
Our skin is an organ like other parts of the body and in the same way exercise increases blood flow around your heart and muscles, so the flow is also increased in the skin too. This in turn means there is more oxygen in the area to support skin cells – you may even notice your hair and nails growing stronger as your circulation improves, especially if you are combining your exercise plan with a more nutritious diet.” If you are noticing that your skin is looking brighter since you started your new regime, this is a key indicator that it’s working,” Melissa assures us.
Related: Ways to reverse the signs of ageing on a cellular level
There is an element of mindfulness when we are exercising and have to focus on the exercise in hand rather than other things which are going on in life or checking our emails. This can help translate into more mindful habits in everyday life.
But physically exercise also improves your brain in the short term by raising your focus for two to three hours afterwards. And in the long term, it can even help keep your brain young and protect against Alzheimer’s because of a process called neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to improve itself with blood flow.
“Regular exercise can release certain chemicals in the brain which helps to improve your ability to stay focused,” adds Melissa. “Therefore, if you notice that you can get your work done more efficiently and block out distractions, it is a clear indication that you are benefiting from your exercise routine.”
Read on: How to keep your fitness regime on track
“Exercise releases a huge amount of endorphins and serotonin into the body, both of which can help alleviate depression,” says Melissa. Indeed a study by Duke University researchers proved that depressed adults who exercised regularly improved as much as those treated with a leading antidepressant.
Exercise also reduces the production of immune system chemicals, which are known to make symptoms of depression worse. So, if you are noticing that you’re generally feeling happier, this could be a clear sign that your health plan is in fact working. If you feel less stressed and altogether lighter in your outlook then it’s well worth carrying on with your workouts even if physically you don’t feel you are seeing enough results.