5 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
Most of us are aware of the physical benefits of exercise, such as weight control, lower blood pressure, reduced risk of diabetes, increased energy, and so on. However, what about the psychological benefits of exercise? Whether it is easing symptoms of depression and anxiety or keeping your memory sharp, there is no lack of mental benefits when it comes to exercise.
5 Mental Health Benefits That Come With Exercise
- Reduces Stress. Rough day at work or at school? Take a nice walk outside or head to the gym or get in a quick home workout. Whether it’s physical or mental stress, working up a sweat can help manage and relieve both. Exercise also increases amounts of norepinephrine, a chemical that works to moderate the brain's response to stressors. So, at the end or before a long day, don’t be afraid to get sweaty as a quick sweat session can reduce stress and boost the body's ability to deal with mental tension.
- Increased Self-Esteem. Improved endurance, weight loss, and increasing muscle tone are all physical benefits one can achieve through regular exercise. Even better, all of those achievements can all add up to a noticeable boost in self-esteem, allowing you to acquire all of the confidence that comes with it. Oftentimes, it happens before you even realize it, like a switch that gets turned on. It’s simply one of the many mental benefits that come with engaging in regular physical activity.
- Better Quality of Sleep. If you experience trouble getting a good quality of sleep each night, exercise can help with that. Physical activity increases the temperature of your body, which calms your mind, leaving you tossing and turning less and snoozing more. Additionally, exercise helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which is our bodies’ alarm clock that controls when we wake up, feel tired, and feel alert.
- Prevents Cognitive Decline. As unpleasant as it is, when we get older our cognitive functioning declines. Aging and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's kill off brain cells, and as a result the brain shrinks, many important brain functions are lost in the process. Although exercise and a healthy diet cannot cure degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, they can help support the brain against cognitive decline that starts to begin after age 45. Working out, especially between ages 25 and 45, is crucial as it boosts brain chemicals that prevent degeneration within the hippocampus, an important area of the brain that is responsible for learning and memory.
- Makes You Happier. Although we often don’t feel like doing much when we’re feeling blue, exercise releases endorphins which create feelings of euphoria and joy. Regular exercise can also ease symptoms among the clinically depressed, studies show. It is for this reason that doctors recommend those suffering from depression or anxiety to spend some time breaking a sweat.
Start Exercise Program Today
Regardless of your age or fitness level, research has shown that making time for exercise provides some important mental benefits. By reading the above list of benefits, choose to get inspired to exercise and in turn reap the rewards that exercise can have on your overall mental health.