10 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
1. Feel-good Hormones
Andries Lodder published an in-depth piece on the ways in which
physical activity can improve mental health – a benefit of exercise that is too often overlooked. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins which relaxes the body and calms the mind. It also acts as nature’s own pain-relief system. In this way regular exercise significantly reduces symptoms for people dealing with depression and anxiety.
2. Better Sleep
Lack of sleep has been known to cause problems with attention, memory,
and even stress and blood pressure levels. By engaging your mind and body in stimulating exercise, you are laying the foundation for healthier sleep patterns which lead to a healthier mind and body.
Physical activity acts to release built-up tension from the body, and when
your body feels relaxed, the mind relaxes too. People who exercise experience less backache, headache, and other strain-related pain that comes with being weighed down by stress. The best part is that the brain learns how to better manage mental stress as well, which can greatly reduce feelings of exhaustion and anxiety.
When you work out regularly, your body will inevitably start taking shape
and looking great. In turn, this will act as a natural boost to self-confidence. People with body image problems and depression can benefit greatly from this. Your sense of worth improves along with your self-image.
5. Cognitive Function
Exercise helps keep your brain young no matter what your true age
is. As we get older, our brain function begins to decline, and regular physical activity helps slow down this process. Not only will you be decreasing the natural degeneration of your brain, but you will boost memory and have sharper focus as well.
6. Manage Addiction
Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that is used as a kind of reward
when responding to something that is pleasurable. Drug and alcohol dependence is underlined by going after that hit of Dopamine, which can just as easily be achieved using food, sex, or exercise.
7. More Energy
People with mental health problems often go through periods where they
find it hard to function in everyday life – work, family, community responsibilities fall by the wayside. Regular exercise keeps the mind and body energized and ready to take on the tasks required to lead a satisfying life.
8. Managing Feelings
Mental health specialists report that people with mental illness
commonly feel as if they have little control over their emotions and in fact, their emotions control them. A good aerobic workout, like running, gives you the opportunity to release negative feelings in a healthy way. You will finish feeling refreshed and renewed, and more prepared to overcome the next hurdle in your path.
More of than not, people with mental health problems have difficulty with
productivity at work. By using exercise to get rid of stress and anxiety among other things, you leave your mind relaxed and energized to take on everyday stress. This makes you more productive and attentive in a work environment.
10. Mind-body Balance
The cyclical nature of the relationship between mental and physical
health means that when you treat one in a healthy and positive way, the other will be impacted much the same. We know that depression and schizophrenia have been linked to heart disease and diabetes, conditions which can lead to worsening the symptoms of mental illness. That’s why in keeping your body healthy, you lessen the negative impact that chronic conditions end up having on your mental state.