If you are a couch potato and find yourself restless, anxious, moody and unable to sleep, lack of exercise may be the root cause. Restlessness can leave you feeling exhausted and lethargic -- and too tired to go to the gym. It is a vicious cycle that can only be broken by taking proactive measures to become physically active.
Exercise and Mental Health
Feelings of stress and anxiety can make you restless and unable to focus. There is a strong link between the mind and the body, and sedentary living has been linked to poor mental health. A 2006 article published in the "Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry" explains how exercise influences hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, affecting your ability to deal with stress. A 2011 study published in "Psychiatry Research" found a strong link between television watching and computer use, and mental anxiety and depression. Dr. Jasper Smits of Southern Methodist University has done extensive research on the effect of exercise on patients with high anxiety sensitivity disorder and found that vigorous exercise plays an important role in diminishing panic attacks.
Exercise and Sleep Apnea
The inability to get a good night's sleep can also be directly related to a sedentary lifestyle. The ability of your heart and lungs to efficiently deliver oxygen throughout your body can be impaired by deconditioning caused by lack of exercise. Deconditioning and obesity can cause sleep apnea, a condition in which inadequate oxygen delivery causes you to wake several times per night, preventing you from completing all phases of your sleep cycle. Sleep apnea is a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease. Exercise can help you lose weight and improve your heart and lung function to prevent sleep apnea.
Exercise and RLS
Restless leg syndrome, or RLS, is a condition marked by uncomfortable sensations in the legs that make it difficult to fall asleep. It, too, has been linked to physical inactivity. A 2006 study of subjects with RLS published in the "Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine" found that a 12-week program of exercise significantly reduced the symptoms of RLS.
Exercise and Chronic Fatigue
Chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition in which you feel exhausted, lethargic and de-energized, is associated with anxiety, depression and insomnia. The combination of restlessness and chronic fatigue can impair your mental outlook and lower your self-esteem. Regular exercise, once again, can help combat this. The "Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry" says improved sleep, stress relief, increased energy and stamina, increased mental alertness and an increased interest in sex among the many benefits are associated with participation in regular exercise.