7 Mental Health Benefits Of Exercise: How Exercises Improves Physical and Mental Health
Today, I’m going to give you 7 mental health benefits of exercise. Now, we’ve all heard that exercise is good for you. We’ve all been told that you need to move your body, and we know that exercise is good for physical fitness. It helps to reduce physical diseases such as heart disease and stroke. But what you may not know is that exercise is not just good for your body; it’s good for your brain. So today, I’m going to give you seven mental health benefits of exercise. Keep reading.
1. Exercise reduces stress
It decreases stress. When you exercise, you increase the blood flow to the brain, and this enhances your body’s production of norepinephrine, which is an organic chemical or neurotransmitter that helps to regulate stress. Exercising also helps to reduce the stress hormone cortisol. So, when you’re feeling stressed or at the end of a hard day’s work, in order to exercise, you don’t have to put on expensive gym clothes and go work out for an hour and a half. You don’t have to do all that. You can do something as simple as taking the stairs or going for a 15-minute walk or doing some push-ups in the corner – anything to get your blood flowing. So, the number one way that exercise is a benefit for your mental health is it decreases stress.
2. Exercise decreases anxiety and depression
Studies have proven that exercise can reduce anxiety and depression. Here’s what happens when you exercise: your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s natural hormone that makes you feel good. It’s like a feel-good hormone, and it gives you a natural high. It makes you feel less pain, and it makes you feel euphoria. So, exercising by releasing this hormone automatically can make you feel happier. When you exercise, you also increase your release of serotonin, which is also a neurotransmitter that can help you to feel happier. One study in particular showed that when people either ran for 15 minutes or walked for one hour, they had increased self-reported happiness. It actively was correlated with less depression.
3. Exercise can improve your self-esteem
and who doesn’t want high self-esteem? When you exercise and you get more physically fit and you feel like you’re more attractive, you tend to feel better about yourself. It boosts your confidence. Also, the endorphins in and of themselves can increase your confidence and your feeling of self-worth. So, exercise can be another mental health benefit because it increases self-esteem. Also, when you participate in group activities, such as team sports, this fosters more socialization, which can also boost your self-esteem.
4. Exercise can improve your memory
That’s right, it can actually help you to remember things more. Studies have shown that there is a direct link between people who exercise and people who have better memories. When you exercise, you increase your body’s production of BDNF, that’s brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and what this does is it helps to protect and to restore neurons.It also helps your body to process information better. It’s better for your learning; it can help your memory. So if you want to help to enhance your memory, get on up and exercise.
5. Exercise improves creativity and focus
When you exercise and you increase your body’s neurotransmitter, that norepinephrine, it increases your concentration. People who exercise tend to have more brain energy, they tend to have more creative juices, and they can focus and get more done. So the next time you have writer’s block, or if you just can’t get your mind going to do whatever creative things you need to do or to focus, get up, go for a jog, go for a brisk walk, and this may help your creativity and focus.
6. Exercise can help to decrease addiction
You can be addicted to many things – drugs, alcohol, you can be addicted to chocolate, to food. When you have addiction, especially some drug addictions, your body is looking for dopamine, which helps you to feel euphoria. Well, when you exercise and your body produces that natural high via endorphins, this can give your body that euphoria that it’s looking for. While exercise certainly does not replace any drug addiction program or any mental health counseling, it certainly can help. So, try exercise in order to help to decrease addiction.
7. Exercise can help to improve brain aging.
As we get older, our brain shrinks; we’re more forgetful; we have that memory loss, and we tend to concentrate less. This is just a part of life. As you get older, your memory decreases, and some people are actually predisposed to dementia or Alzheimer’s. If you exercise, you can enhance your memory. You can produce that chemical which helps to protect your neurons and to restore your neurons. You can also actually enhance the cells in your hippocampus, which is a part of your brain that is essential for good memory. Exercise also promotes your prefrontal cortex, which also aids in memory. So, in order to maximize your brain health and your memory as you get older, you definitely want to exercise.
Keep in mind that exercise doesn’t require hours or an expensive gym membership to make a difference. Optimal exercise involves 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to intense cardiovascular activity five days a week.
However, even three to four days a week can significantly boost your mental health. Remember, exercise doesn’t have to be continuous. You can fit in 10-minute walks during your day or take the stairs for a quick 10-minute session. You can accumulate 30 minutes of exercise throughout the day in increments. Whether it’s yoga stretches, sit-ups, a brisk jog, or even vigorous house cleaning, there are various ways to stay active. The key is taking care of yourself through exercise, which can greatly enhance your mental well-being. Continue striving for your healthiest, happiest life!