7 Mental Health Benefits of Regular Exercise
According to the National Institute of Health, aerobic exercise and other forms of movement are linked to a reduction in depression or anxiety. Even light stretching, jogging in a park, or running for ten minutes on a treadmill a few times per week can work wonders. Check out these seven mental health benefits of regular exercise:
1. Reduce Stress
The American Psychology Association reports that 44 percent of adults engage in walking or other forms of exercise to cope with stress. Exercise decreases stress hormones like cortisol. It also increases endorphins—your body’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals—giving your mood a natural boost.
Improving your overall health and longevity with exercise can save you a great deal of stress in the short run (by strengthening your immunity to colds, the flu, and other minor illnesses) and the long run (by helping you stay healthier longer, and enjoy life more because of it).
2. Clear your thoughts and memories
The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline. Physical activity can take your mind off of your problems and either redirect it on the activity at hand or get you into a zen-like state.
3.Get better sleep
Regular exercise increases the physical temperature of your body, meaning your brain can have an easier time winding down when you want to sleep at night.
4. Connect with other people
Working out with others provides physical, mental, and social benefits. When you stick to a fitness schedule, you’re likely to become more committed to plans outside of the gym. Since your pals will be able to depend on you, your friendships — and thus, your social life — will deepen.
When you’re feeling down, there’s nothing like having good friends around to cheer you up. But friendships aren’t only about helping each other through the tough times. They are also built over shared laughs and fun experiences. Working out releases endorphins, which have been proven to make people happier so not only is this a perk for your overall personality, but it’s a social benefit of exercise that reveals itself through the conversations you have, the connections you make, and the friendships you build!
5. Reduce the chance of physical health issues
A reduced likelihood of suffering from physical health issues is a top mental health benefit of exercise. Sometimes prevention can be the greatest benefit of all.
6. Reduce the symptoms of mental illnesses
Exercise can alleviate many of the symptoms of depression, such as fatigue, tension, anger, and reduced vigor.
For people with panic disorder, PTSD, and other anxiety-related conditions, exercise can be a proactive way to release pent-up tension and reduce feelings of fear and worry.
Exercise also decreases sensitivity to the body’s reaction to anxiety, as well as decreases the intensity and frequency of panic attacks in some cases.
7. Promote Confidence
Exercise can help you lose weight, tone your body, and maintain a healthy glow and a smile. You may feel a subtle but significant boost in your mood as your clothes look more flattering and you project an aura of increased strength.
Check out our post on tips for working out for the first time to kickstart your new healthier and happier lifestyle.