The Mental Health Benefits Of Exercise
Exercise has long been known to have a myriad of physical health benefits, from improved cardiovascular functioning to weight management. However, did you know that research is also discovering strong links between exercise and mental health? Studies have shown that regular physical activity can help improve overall mental wellbeing, fight stress and anxiety, increase self-confidence, and even prevent depression in some cases.
So next time you don’t feel like going out for a run or hitting the gym, remember that your mental health could be benefiting as much as your physical! In this blog post we will explore the various ways in which exercise can promote good mental health while highlighting some tips on how to get started with an effective fitness program.
Let's take some time to explore the mental health benefits of exercising to understand why making a habit out of regular physical activity could benefit your mind as well as your body.
Exercise Decreases Anxiety and Depression
Regular physical activity can be a powerful tool in managing anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that regular exercise helps to increase levels of "feel-good" hormones in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, while reducing the amount of cortisol – sometimes referred to as the "stress hormone". This increase in chemical balance allows us to feel calmer and more relaxed, while reducing negative emotions and improving our overall mental wellbeing.
It has been proven that symptoms such as restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and even irritability may be dramatically reduced through regular aerobic and low impact exercises like running, biking or swimming combined with strength training.
Additionally, developing a strong bond with yourself will further reduce anxiety levels by allowing you to better recognize when additional support is needed. The combination of physical activity along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle are essential for helping those suffering from anxiety and depression. So if you're feeling down, going outside for a walk or jog might be exactly what you need!
Exercise Reduces Stress
Similar to what I stated in previous paragraphs regarding exercise being proven to decrease anxiety and depression, exercise has also been proven to be a fantastic outlet for individuals feeling stressed or anxious. Exercise helps boost the body's production of endorphins, neurotransmitters that can improve mood and mental outlook.
From aerobic activities such as running, walking and swimming, to lifting weights and yoga - all have a significant effect on reducing our stress levels. Exercise encourages the release of cortisol, which helps reduce the level of the stress hormone in our bodies. Working out not only contributes to an overall sense of well-being but also refocuses the mind away from stressful thoughts or issues. Exercise can be as simple as taking a brisk walk on a daily basis or doing some stretching for 10 to 15 minutes each day to help cope with stress.
Whatever form of exercise you choose, the important thing is that it reduces stress so make sure to add some type of movement into your routine!
Exercise Enhance Cognitive Functioning
Exercise is proven to improve cognitive functioning in a number of ways. Researchers have found an association with physical activity and an increase in brain volume, which may lead to improved performance in areas such as memory, judgment, decision-making, and reasoning.
Exercise has also been found to improve focus and executive functioning as well as foster creativity in people of all ages. With regular exercising, not only does one’s body benefit but also their overall mental wellbeing, allowing for better psychological functioning.
And if that’s not enough of an incentive, exercising on a regular basis produces beneficial environmental changes in the body such as better blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, stronger bones and muscles - all which further support good brain health. So get moving for your mind as well your body!
Exercise Increases Longevity
Exercise is an important part of staying healthy and living longer. Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise can help improve mental and physical health, increase life expectancy, and reduce the chances of chronic diseases.
One of the ways exercise increases longevity is by helping to manage stress, anxiety and depression. Anxiety in particular can have a huge impact on our overall well-being- it can lead to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal pain, gastrointestinal problems, insomnia and other health issues.
Fortunately, by engaging in regular exercise, we can effectively manage our anxiety levels and reduce the chance of having these long-term health conditions. Exercise helps to decrease stress hormones while increasing endorphins which contribute to making the body feel calm and balanced. With consistent exercise, individuals will see their anxiety levels decrease over time allowing them to live a longer and healthier life. Even 30 minutes of daily exercise provides cognitive benefits and can add years to your life.
Exercise Can Improve Your Self-Esteem
Exercise can be beneficial not just for physical health and fitness but for mental health as well. Achieving regular workout goals such as running a certain distance in under an hour will boost your motivation and confidence levels as well as force you to stay focused on one task at a time. The sense of achievement from successfully meeting your targets can do wonders for improving your opinion of yourself.
Taking up a physical activity like running or lifting weights can also serve as an outlet for frustration or anger, allowing you to take out any stressful emotions on those reps instead of bottling them up inside you.
All these aspects can combine to give you the necessary strength and courage to better yourself going forward.
Exercise Can Help To Decrease Addiction
Exercise is a powerful tool in helping to manage and decrease addiction. Research has shown that people who engage in regular physical activity have lower levels of anxiety and depression, both of which can be contributing factors to addiction.
When those suffering from addiction have a healthier escape other than drugs or alcohol, they can redirect their energy into more positive pursuits. Engaging in regular physical activity through exercise can also be used as a coping mechanism for people facing addiction; instead of turning to substances as a way out of uncomfortable situations, one can go for a run or workout instead - which can ultimately lead to less reliance on addictive substances.
Becoming physically active is not only good for physical health but also can support people in reducing the urge to abuse drugs or alcohol as it helps maintain positive energy levels, motivation and confidence during periods of vulnerability or stress.
Exercise Can Help To Improve Brain Aging
Regular exercise can bring a number of cognitive benefits such as improved memory, better control over thoughts and actions, along with increased attention span, while also reducing anxiety and depression symptoms.
When engaging in aerobic activity, it has the potential to increase metabolism which improves the circulation of blood to the brain. This helps transport energy and oxygen, improving the functioning of neurons which keeps the mind keen even during aging. Exercise also aids in lifting moods due to an increase in endorphins, which reduces stress and improves overall mental health.
Exercising regularly is one of the most effective ways for not only aging adults but all age groups alike to improve their growing mental capabilities.
Exercise Promotes Better Sleep
Regular exercise also helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythms, allowing for more restful sleep at night. Exercise increases core body temperature, which then gradually drops before going to bed so that it becomes easier for us to fall asleep.
Good-quality sleep will in turn reduce fatigue and improve mental processes like decision-making, learning, memory and more. Creating a consistent exercise routine can really enhance your nightly rest, resulting in a better quality of life and improved wellbeing.
In closing, as I have stated throughout my blog, exercise virtually promotes overall wellbeing. The cognitive and emotional benefits of exercise are vast and far-reaching. From reducing stress levels to improving memory function, the positive impacts of physical activity are undeniable.
In order to reap these rewards, however, it’s important that we find a way to make regular exercise a habit. For many people, this means incorporating some form of physical activity into their daily routine even if they can’t get out to the gym or go for a run.
By regularly engaging in physical activity, we can reduce our risk of developing chronic diseases, boost our moods, and increase our overall sense of happiness and satisfaction with life. So get moving! It’s good for your body and your brain.