Dubai Fitness Challenge 30x30 is back for the second year. Like its 2017 debut, the 2018 offers a plethora of free events and classes across town for all fitness levels. But instead of listing all the known benefits of physical activity and praise the enormous efforts expended in its realisation, let’s explore a wonderful by-product of the challenge that is often neglected and rarely discussed in mainstream media; namely the improvement we can expect in our mental health.
All scientific research has proven the benefits of exercise on our mental wellbeing. Physical activity stimulates our pituitary glands to release endorphins and enkephalins. Those ‘feel-good’ hormones are our bodies natural opiate pain relievers. Usually released as antidotes to experiences of pain or stress, those pleasure inducing hormones recalibrate our mental system so that we can function and perform at optimum levels.
Reducing our stress and anxiety levels for 30 consecutive days will likely result in a more positive outlook on life which eventually will improve our daily performance. In fact, improved mental performance has been shown to have an even more direct correlation to physical exercise according to the latest studies. Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that regular aerobic exercise appears to increase the size of the hippocampus; the part of the brain responsible for verbal memory, learning and emotion regulation. People with larger hippocampus are less at risk in developing Alzheimer and Dementia since this organ is responsible for the formation of new neurons which allows a healthy level of flexibility in the use of existing memories and in the flexible processing of new information.
Not only does the size of the hippocampus increase, caused by the release of growth factor neurochemicals that stimulate the growth of new brain blood vessels and new cells, but also the volumes of the prefrontal and medial temporal cortexes; the parts of the brain responsible for complex thinking, decision making and the moderation of social behaviour, expand allowing for greater ‘mental flexibility’. In plain words, we can think better, communicate better and decide better. And this can be achieved through regular exercise that gets our hearts pumping and our sweat glands stimulated.
Apart from the neurochemical stimulations that improve our cognitive abilities, the Dubai Fitness Challenge is an excellent opportunity to connect with people and boost our emotional and social wellbeing. With most of us socialising with the same surrounding network day-in and day-out an element of staleness, resentment, competition or envy may begin to fester (particularly if you socialise with work colleagues). Introduction to new people during group exercises will pump new energy into our existing social circles and open possibilities of novel experiences
So, if you are someone who is not encouraged to workout for the physical benefits of exercise, maybe you should consider the festivities of Dubai Fitness Challenge for their mental and social benefits.