How Physical Exercise Benefits for Mental HealthJune 3, 2020
We all know that physical exercise benefits our physical health as we can see tangible results by looking in the mirror, or by noticing our clothes fitting a bit better. However, did you know that exercise also benefits our mental health? It’s true! Have you ever gone to the gym after a long absence and felt invincible or more confident right after? That’s just a tiny taste of the positive effects it can have on our mental health. Let’s dive a bit deeper into this article to show you how.
Exercise has an essentially endless list of benefits. Everything first starts in our brain, where exercise triggers the production of chemicals which boost mood, along with the areas of our gray matter which control memory and learning. Even if you already feel “alright”, you can benefit from exercise! Why not feel and look fantastic all while lowering your risk of a huge array of illnesses and conditions?
- Exercise helps in managing anxiety and depression
If you find yourself in the state of depression and/or anxiety, then exercise is probably one of the last things on your “to-do list”. However, if you can find it in you to motivate yourself enough to get those running shoes laced up, you’ll benefit from endorphins, and endorphins are a free and easy way to make us feel better. If you’re suffering from health problems like high blood pressure or arthritis that are helping fuel your depression, then you can double your benefits by improving your condition and reducing anxiety.
Getting back into the swing of things can boost your confidence – both mentally and physically! As getting out of the house and participating in physical activity can also give you the chance to socialize with others, you could feel more satisfaction in this regard as well. There are a lot of reasons behind the higher rate of conversions for doctors to prescribe their patients exercise regimens before turning to medications!
- Reduces stress
At this point, we understand that stress is just a part of human life. In fact, around 70% of adults in America have stated they go through a period of stress every day and the majority also says that this experience interferes with their regular lives. With that being said, it’s not really possible to completely eliminate stress out of our lives. However, the use of consistent exercise can help us manage it.
It could be existing muscle pain and tightness that is causing you stress. If that’s the case, exercise can actually help with muscle tightness, soreness, imbalances, and more. Many of us have back, neck, and/or headaches because of sitting in front of a computer screen. Getting up and moving around can help strengthen these muscles, placing your spine in a healthier, more ergonomic position to reduce pain and discomfort. If you notice that you are perfectly happy and relaxed, you could still probably benefit from decreased levels of stress!
- Boost self-esteem and confidence
The relationship between physical activity and self-esteem is incredible. Healthcare professionals have discovered that to achieve the best results in terms of self-esteem boosting, we must partake in both moderate and vigorous physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week. Self-esteem is essential for feeling satisfied and successful in general and can help us achieve our goals easier by making us more confident. Confidence can actually help breed success and helps provide us with the strength we need to work hard and never give up.
Once you start accomplishing these goals, it’s like a domino effect. Each goal achieved will motivate you to go chase after the next! Even noticing your toned body is motivating, and can keep you on the path to a healthier lifestyle.
- Clear Mind
If you’re regularly feeling forgetful or like you simply can’t focus to your full abilities, then you might be dealing with “brain fog”. That isn’t the official term, but if you have it then you’ll know what we’re talking about. The good news is that it’s completely treatable, and exercise is one of the main methods of doing so.
Exercise pumps more blood throughout the body, which means it also delivers more to the brain. Our blood delivers oxygen, thus keeping the oxygen flowing to our brain which can help get rid of that foggy feeling. You don’t have to jump right into grueling workouts to benefit, either. Even just walking for a minimum of 30 minutes, 4-5 times per week will have great results.
- Quality Sleep
Did you know that physical exercise actually decreases insomnia? It may sound like a big claim, but it’s true! If you’re having trouble falling asleep and/or being able to get quality sleep, then exercise could be the quickest and simplest way to combat it.
Just like a cup of coffee, however, we shouldn’t partake too close to bedtime. As aerobic exercise can spark the release of endorphins, these chemicals can easily keep us awake. Make sure you have at least a 1 to 2-hour buffer to give your brain time to calm down. It rises the temperature of body, and we need our body temperatures to be lower to fall asleep and into a deep sleep.
According to various studies, if you exercise for 20 minutes on a regular basis, your life can have immense positive changes. Weight control, increased fitness levels, reduced blood pressure, and a boost in energy and mood are just a few of the very real results you may see from it. Walking and running are the best tasks that you can inculcate in your daily or weekly routine, as not even a single piece of equipment is required, and if you can get up to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity walking a few times a week, you’re off to a wonderful start. However, not all of us live in a climate nice enough or a city safe enough to go outside and work out.
If you plan to workout indoors, try to add an elliptical or rower machine in your in-house gym setup. Some of these machines offer so much convenience that you can set them up while working out and just move or fold them out of the way to keep them in a corner to save space. Moreover, they’re both very low impact and take it easy on your joints so even if you’re a beginner or recovering from an injury you can partake!
While aerobic exercise is a must and sometimes one of the best exercises to do, strength training still remains an essential and vital part of a workout. You can also lift free-weights, but it depends whether you have them or not. If not, there are so many exercises like plyometric, etc. for strength training.
Mental health is invaluable to having a happy, successful life. Exercise can be one of the easiest tools to get us there, and starting can often be the hardest part. Start by taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood or hopping on your elliptical machine! You’ll soon find it addictive, and may even begin looking forward to your workout time! Thanks for joining us, and congratulations on taking the first step towards a healthier lifestyle.