Training For Exceptional Health and Wellbeing

by Mar 1, 2018Healthy Lifestyle

This one is teensy bit sciency…

But, I am writing this because I think where “wellbeing” is mentioned, the true benefits exercise has to make life better get underplayed and they are rarely backed up by any mention of the mechanisms through which those awesome benefits are achieved!

When we exercise we kick-start a cascade of hormones, enzymes and proteins that travel through the blood stream until they reach their target site, interact with it and then over a process of hours, days, weeks and sometimes months the target site will then begin to change.

When it comes to aerobic exercise there are four main adaptations that take place

  • Mitochondrial biogenesis– Increases the size and number of your mitochondria described as the energy station of the cell, mitochondria is essential for fat metabolism
  • Better utilization of oxygen in the muscles– Your muscles will become more efficient and exercise that was once difficult e.g. walking up 5 flights of stairs becomes easy.
  • Increased stroke volume– your heart will pump more per beat (to achieve this you need to perform exercise at a low intensity)
  • Myocardium hypertrophy– Your heart’s walls will become stronger (to achieve this you need to perform high intensity exercise)

So, Life becomes that little bit easier and you’ll have more energy to deal with problems as they arise!

Exercise increases our endorphins

 Whether aerobic training or strength training, we all know from our own experience that you can get that “feel good”.

Runners call it “runners high” and I know from my body builder pals that they have a similar association with “the pump”

Most people understand that exercise increases our endorphins but what does that mean? Here are some of the neurotransmitters that are unregulated by exercise:

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in controlling movement and posture. It also modulates mood

GABA contributes to motor control, vision, and it also regulates anxiety

Glutamate is a major excitatory neurotransmitter that is associated with learning and memory.

Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that is important for attentiveness, emotions, sleeping, dreaming, and learning. When released into the blood, norepinephrine causes blood vessels to contract and heart rate to increase.

Serotonin contributes to various functions, such as regulating body temperature, sleep, mood, appetite, and pain.

 If you were told you could get all of the benefits mentioned above, what would it be worth to you?

Would it be worth 2-3 hours of your time?

Except, that’s not all that’s on offer.

 Exercise improves sleep

When we exercise we increase the amount of adenosine in the brain, which is associated with a lack of wakefulness and feeling sleepy. The more exercise you do the more adenosine you’ll build up in the brain and the more sleepy you’ll feel.

You may also notice, that if worry tends to keep you awake at night; exercise could help. A 2015 study by Herring showed a positive impact from exercise in young women with generalised anxiety disorder

Other more Peripheral benefits

 From our experience, when people start exercising:

  • They see positive changes in their body which more often than not leads to an increase in self confidence
  • They are able to cope better with physical tasks
  • They are more likely to eat more nutritious foods
  • They are less likely to use alcohol to relieve stress- Alcohol, increases glutamate, dopamine and GABA (mentioned above) and give a “high” for a short period which is then followed by a low. This low is associated with feelings of low mood.

If optimal wellbeing is your goal we would recommend you include the following as part of a well planned program:

  • Include strength training 2-3 x per week
  • Include some 40-60 sessions of low intensity exercise
  • Include some high intensity interval training

Thanks for reading


If you’d like to get started with a healthy lifestyle please get in touch

Herring, M. P., Kline, C. E., & O’Connor, P. J. (2015). Effects of exercise on sleep among young women with generalized anxiety disorder. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 9, 59-66.

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