Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
It’s no secret that exercise is good for your physical well-being. It can improve your health, help you get in better shape, and increase your lifespan. What you may not have known, however, is the incredible benefits that exercise can have for your mental health.
- Exercise can help with depression. In those who are suffering from mild to moderate depression, exercise can be just as effective as taking antidepressants without some of the nasty side effects. Exercise releases endorphins in your brain which can boost your mood and make you happier. Not only can it help treat depression, evidence suggests that regular exercise can help you avoid relapsing.
- Exercise helps combat cognitive degeneration. As we age, our brains age with us and can actually shrink due to diseases like Alzheimer’s. Working out won’t cure cognitive decline, but it can help stave off the onsetting of degenerative diseases.
- Exercise can you sleep better. Even in those with insomnia, exercise can help bring about relaxation and help you call asleep. Exercise can also help you sleep by affecting your circadian rhythm, aka your internal body clock.
- Exercise can help increase productivity. Working out, even just going for a walk or a jog, can increase your energy level, help you focus, and help you be more productive. One study found an increase in cognitive function by 5%-10% in individuals who work out. While it may be difficult for people with busy schedules, experts suggest that the best time to work out is midday as it can help you sleep better as well.
- Exercise can help with anxiety. When you experience anxiety, one of the things that occurs on a physiological level is the release of adrenaline into your bloodstream. By exercising, you’re burning off the unnecessary adrenaline that your body has created which can help alleviate the panicky sensation, along with releasing mood-boosting endorphins. Exercise is the most natural anti-anxiety treatment and can be incredibly effective.
- Exercise can help reduce ADHD symptoms. Working out has proven effective in improving concentration, boosting motivation, aiding in memory, and improving mood, all things that people with ADHD may have trouble with. Exercise can also have the same effects as ADHD medications through boosting your brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels.
- Exercise can make you feel better about yourself. When you exercise, you’re not only working out your body, you’re also working out your mind and spirit by pushing yourself physically. Meeting exercise goals can lead to a sense of accomplishment, and regular workouts can make you feel better about your appearance and help foster your sense of self-worth.
To receive the positive mental benefits of exercise, you don’t need to kill yourself every day at the gym. Any amount of exercise is good for your body, and the more you work out the more you’ll begin to see the rewards.