FACT: Exercise Strengthens Your Mental Health, Too | Meditation is Easy
There is more to exercise than increasing muscle size and improving aerobic capacity. It can also be good for your mental health. Here’s how exercise helps you.
There is more to exercise than increasing muscle size and improving aerobic capacity. Although regular exercise improves your physique and physical health, it can also do wonders for your sense of well-being. People who exercise regularly sleep better at night, feel more energetic throughout the day and have a more positive outlook about their lives and themselves. Exercises are also powerful tools for people struggling with their mental health.
Anyone can benefit mentally from regular exercise – whether you’re a fitness trailer earning CEC points in Australia or a busy professional in Arizona who wants to make healthier decisions (which includes exercising). The best part is that you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits for your mental health.
The Psychological Benefits of Exercise
Most people know the physical benefits of exercise: increased energy, reduced risk of diseases, lower blood pressure and weight control. But what about the mental benefits of regular physical activity?
From keeping your memory sharp to easing symptoms of depression, there’s no shortage of psychological benefits. Consider the following mental health perks of getting up and working your body.
Reduced Stress Levels
Stress is one of the common happiness blockers for many people. Instead of letting stress eat you up, work your stress out!
Increasing your heart rate reverses the harmful effect of stress on your brain. Exercise stimulates the production of norepinephrine, a neurohormone that improves your mood and thinking, both of which are often clouded by stress. Exercise also pushes the body’s sympathetic and central nervous systems to communicate with each other, improving your ability to respond to stress.
Help for Anxiety and Depression
Exercise can decrease the symptoms of both anxiety and depression. It kicks up your body’s endorphin levels, aka the “happy hormone” chemical produced by your spinal cord and brain. This feel-good chemical produces feelings of euphoria and happiness.
Even if you do a few moderate exercises throughout the week, you can improve your symptoms of anxiety and depression. This is why some doctors incorporate an exercise regimen into their patients’ health plans.
Can’t sleep at night? Exercise can give you a good sleep.
Physical activity increases the body’s temperature, which calms the mind, reducing the tossing and turning and leading to better sleep. Exercise also improves your body’s built-in alarm clock, aka the circadian rhythm. This rhythm control when you feel awake and when you feel tired. So, exercise and bid your stress goodnight!
Although exercise can help you sleep better, it’s best not to work out when you’re about to sleep. Exercising too late could disrupt your sleep patterns.
Exercise improves your blood flow. Increased blood flow carries more nutrients and oxygen to your muscles, which makes you feel more alert and energized. When you sleep better and exercise regularly, your body gains more energy.
From strengthening your memory to building your cognitive skills, exercise improves your brainpower. Studies indicate that physical activity stimulates neurogenesis, a process that involves the creation of new brain cells, which improves your brain’s overall performance.
Exercise also prevents memory loss and cognitive decline by working out your hippocampus, aka the part of the brain that is responsible for learning and memory. Physical activity can also boost your mental energy and creativity. So, if you need inspiration for your work or hobby, why not work out, jog or take a walk?
Develop and Strengthen Interpersonal Relationships
When people start exercising with a partner or a friend, they spend quality time with this person and keep other motivated. Also, by gaining confidence from regularly exercising, you may seek out other individuals with the same interests. As a result, you’ll develop and strengthen interpersonal relationships with these people – which is a plus for your mental health.
Belonging to a community and having someone to talk to eases the burden of anxiety and depression. As the old saying goes, “No man is an island” and exercise reminds you of that fact.
Improved Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
Regular exercise helps you shed weight and achieve the figure you’ve always wanted. These physical achievements do wonders for your self-esteem. You feel better when you know that you’re caring for your body, as well as rejoice at the fact that you’re at your healthiest.
How Much Exercise Do You Need?
At least 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity on most (if not all) days of the week is good for your body and mind. While you exercise, practice mindfulness to reduce your stress levels and keep your head in a good space.
Exercise isn’t just good for the body; it’s good for the mind, too. So improve your well-being by maintaining a regular routine.