Mar 19, 2024


We all know the advantages exercise has on your physical health, but do you know what it can do for your mental health?

Can exercise actually reduce anxiety or depression?

The answer is YES! Exercise releases chemical substances such as endorphins and serotonin which can improve your mood. Studies also show that it can reduce feelings of depression or isolation by helping in recovering from other mental health challenges.

But what actually classifies as “good” mental health? Good mental health is a state of wellbeing where an individual realizes their own potential, is able to maintain relationships, and has control of all their emotions and actions. The sense of having a purpose, setting goals, and adding value to each of these things are all signs of good mental health.

Here are five ways exercise or physical activity improve mental health:

1. Mood Booster

Exercise is a mood booster in which reduces both depression and anxiety symptoms. Physical activity increases endorphin levels, i.e. the powerful “feel good” chemical that produces a feeling of joy and euphoria in the body. This is why some people like to work out when they are feeling stressed.

2. Decreasing Stress

Physical activity, such as exercise, stimulates the sympathetic nervous system’s function that increases the overall capacity of the body to respond to stress. Not only does exercise produce endorphins (natural painkillers of the body) that reduce stress naturally, it also improves our sleep, which consequently reduces stress. Meditation, massage therapy, deep breathing, and acupuncture are other forms of physical activity with similar benefits.

3. Increasing Self-Esteem & Self-Confidence

Doing physical activities will cumulatively lead to a whopping increase of self-esteem AND self-confidence along with it! Benefits from weight loss and/or body toning from these activities include better-fitting clothes, a slimmer physique, or the opportunity to climb a hill without getting winded.Being able to strengthen the body as well as the mind is one of the many advantages of physical exercise. A useful way to approach exercise is to set goals. When someone performs any kind of exercise, they will have an underlying end goal; it may be to lose weight, be more active, reduce stress or any other fitness goal. Completing this goal leads to a feeling of accomplishment and that inevitably boosts confidence. Studies show that a physically fit person is more confident than someone who has not achieved their desired fitness level.

4. Improved Sleep

If you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, then exercising can help. Physical activity raises the body’s temperature and can have relaxing effects on the mind, resulting in better sleep.

5. Forming New Brain Cells

Studies show that aerobic exercise helps generate new brain cells—a process called neurogenesis—and improves overall brain efficiency. It also prevents memory loss and cognitive impairment by reinforcing the hippocampus, i.e. the brain’s portion responsible for memory and learning. Furthermore, exercise pumps blood to the brain so that you can think more clearly.

Bottom Line: exercise can be used to better our physical AND mental health. Health specialists recommend 30 minutes of moderate physical activity four times a week. Some suggest that walking is best among all exercises as it is suitable for all age groups.

Nonetheless, you can choose other workouts that work best for your needs and interests. It may take some time to find the right exercise for you, but it will be worth it for your mental health once you do!

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