The Active Fun High
You know you've felt it. You know it's real — because people almost always report feeling better and less stressed after physical activity. Maybe that's because even a walk in the park or a swim in the pool makes your body produce endorphins, which stimulates your brain's reward center a lot like morphine does. Maybe it's another chemical. Researchers aren't sure. Either way, the results are clear: You think better and smile longer. Physical activity has also been linked to improved self-esteem, reduced depression and a more positive outlook on life.
Cut the Tension
At the end of a long day your couch may be calling your name. But zoning out in front of the TV can actually stress you out more (this is especially true for kids). Choosing an easy after-dinner activity instead — like a walk around the block or some yard work — will zap harmful stress chemicals and leave you relaxed and refreshed. Need motivation? Make plans with a friend or your family earlier in the day. And remember: It’s not nice to break a promise.
Take a Brain Break
Brain clogged up, blocked up, can't get clarity? Clear it out with a walk along the Pinellas Trail. Scientists agree: Your brain benefits from physical activity. They're just not sure why. It may be the way active fun oxygenates your brain and increases the production of Noggin (seriously, that's what it's called), a key protein that helps your brain generate new neurons. That makes you smarter right now, and can cut your risk of developing dementia by half. (Please note: You still may not be able to do your kid’s math homework.
Feel like a kid again
There’s something about getting active that makes you feel young, whether you’re strolling through a neighborhood park or dancing in your kitchen to the radio. Now studies show that you don’t just feel younger when you’re active; you actually slow the aging process. Active fun can reduce your biological age by as much as 20 years. And that means you can keep up with the grandkids.
Double the fun
Wrap up an afternoon of active fun with some Feel Good Food, and you’ve got a recipe for the best of good times. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and other Feel Good Foods help lower your blood pressure, stabilize your blood sugar, and keep you from feeling grumpy and sluggish an hour after you eat. Search on the left for some easy recipes and a list of farmers’ markets near you.