5 Ways Exercise Directly Affects Your Mental Health
There are plenty of reasons why exercise is good for you—it strengthens your muscles and lungs, keeps your joints limber, and your bones strong. But did you know exercise also has a direct effect on your mental health?
If you’re on the fence about starting an exercise regimen, consider the following ways your workouts could improve your well-being—they just might give you the push you need to tighten up your laces and start working out.
Can Reduce Depression & Anxiety
According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise can help ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Exercise causes the body to release endorphins, natural brain chemicals that enhance your sense of wellbeing.
Focusing on exercise also gives your mind something else to think about besides your worries, allowing you to take a break from the negative thoughts that often serve as fuel for anxiety and depression.
Living in a constant state of stress can affect your ability to sleep, leave you exhausted, and make concentration difficult.
Aerobic exercise has been found to help those looking to manage stress symptoms. People often report feeling calmer after a 20 – 30-minute session of aerobic activity, and the affects often last for several hours after their workout.
Boost Self-Esteem & Confidence
It’s easy to lose love for ourselves and our bodies when we are tense…or worried…or anxious. Working out provides opportunity to stretch yourself beyond that which you think you are capable of.
Setting and realizing a fitness goal is a big deal that requires work…but achieving the goal (and the health benefits you’ll gain along the way) can provide a much needed and well-deserved boost to your self-esteem and confidence.
One of the first signs of an over-stressed, anxious, mind can be a lack of sleep. And once your sleep routine is thrown off, it doesn’t take long to start feeling miserable.
Studies have found that exercise can have a direct…and positive effect on your sleep. Exercise raises your core body temperature for an extended period. Once your body temperature starts to fall—around 60 to 90 minutes post-workout—you’ll be more susceptible to fall asleep quickly (a great argument for evening workouts!).
Improves Cognitive Function
Exercise improves memory and thinking skills by reducing insulin resistance and inflammation. It also encourages the production of chemicals that can affect the growth of new blood vessels in the brain and the health of new brain cells.
What if we stopped seeing exercise as something optional, something we fit into our schedule when we have an extra bit of time?
What if, instead, we viewed exercise as medicine, as something that must happen every day to maintain our physical and mental wellbeing?
Here’s to improving our mental health by moving our bodies!