the powerful effects of exercise

a blog post by Emma


Everyone will relate to the joyful feeling of coming home from a relaxing stroll in their local park. Getting fresh air is one reason that we feel this way (which in our city is not a common occurrence!).

Exercise is another. Getting the heart pumping and blood circulating around the body is one of the best ways to de-stress.

Exercise can be divided nicely into two groups. Cardiovascular exercise strengthens our heart and improves the oxygen capacity of the lungs. Resistance training helps build a strong skeletal frame to keep us mobile and increases muscle mass which maintains a healthy metabolism.

Enough for now of these great physical benefits, let’s get back to my first point that a walk in the park isn’t just doing our body good, it's making us feel good too. When we partake in cardiovascular exercise, even at a moderate pace, our bodies release a brain chemical called serotonin.

exercise and serotonin

Serotonin levels affect our mood, appetite and sleeping patterns. So in short, if we exercise regularly, we'll be more likely to feel brighter, have better control over our diet and sleep better – all three of these things affect our weight and body fat levels.

Sleep in particular has a direct effect on body mass. If we get enough of it, we become much more efficient at keeping stress levels down. Stress is a recipe for ill health, poor eating habits and weight gain so should be avoided at every opportunity! A consistent sleeping pattern also regulates our appetite, just like exercise.  

The chains below represent the powerful effects of activity and a healthy cycle that we can create in our lives:

Cardiovascular Exercise > Serotonin > Better sleep > Less stress > Regulated appetite > Fat loss/maintenance > More confidence > Better mood overall > More organised > More likely to keep up exercise      

Resistance Exercise > Muscle growth/increased bone density > More strength/mobility/improved posture > More confidence > Better mood overall > Better food choices > Fat loss/maintenance > even better mood! > More likely to keep up exercise

If we're trying to reach/maintain an optimal weight, the best place to start is to get some activity into our daily routine. 


examples of cardio based activities include:

  • running/jogging running
  • swimming
  • cycling
  • speed walking
  • skipping

examples of resistance activities include:

  • weight lifting
  • body-weight exercises (push ups/pull ups)

best of both worlds

Working on our strength can be just as beneficial for our mood and our waistline as working out the heart. A mixture of both is recommended for overall health. Too much of one and not enough of the other can lead to in-balances in the mind and body.

To get the best of both worlds, we can do things separately or, to make the most of our time, we can combine them! The activities below use a mixture of fitness and strength:

  • Circuits with cardio and resistance exercises
  • Rock climbing
  • Dancing
  • Martial arts training
  • Rowing/Indoor rowing

Sometimes getting started with exercise can be daunting, especially when our self-esteem is low or we just don’t know where to start.

The Bridge Gym could be just the place to help you get started.

We offer free inductions with all our memberships, a wide variation of classes for any level and personal training for those that would like a more one-to-one experience. Anyone looking to start a programme to improve their mood, lose body fat, build muscle or to just be a healthier version of themselves is welcome here!

Don’t hesitate any longer! Give us a shout and start your journey into fitness!