How Exercise Helps in Boosting Your Mental Health
Sometimes, even just stepping away from the couch and putting on our running shoes is a task in itself. Sure, we may not feel like working out but the benefits are more than worth it. Even though our bodies may be just fine waiting another day, our mental health is much more touchy. If we want to keep both in good working order, we need to stay active. Let’s discuss how exercise helps boost mental health.
How to boost your mental health with exercises
How exactly does exercise benefit us? Most of us already know the physical benefits like controlling our body fat and keeping a healthy body composition, lowering our blood pressure and risk of diabetes/heart disease, greater mobility, and much more. But what are the psychological benefits? There are just as many as physical – if not more.
1. Reduces stress
This point kind of goes along with our previous point, but is important on its own, as well. Who doesn’t want to have less stress in their life? Even if you feel like you live a pretty carefree life, you’ll still benefit from even more serenity. Did you know that by raising your heart rate, you can help reverse brain damage caused by stress? While they do sound like big claims, it’s been proven that by invoking the production of neurohormones like norepinephrine, we can think more clearly, we are more aware, and our mood becomes significantly lighter.
2. Boost self-esteem and confidence
Have you ever noticed that even after just one time at the gym, you feel more confident in yourself? Our bodies love being active, and our self-esteem and confidence fly through the roof, even after a mere 20 minutes of exercise! Sure, it may be tough – there’s no doubt about that. However, you’ll soon feel the endorphins setting in. After becoming active once again, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to do so.
This creates a kind of beautiful snowball effect. The more you exercise, accomplishing physical goals, the better you will continue to feel. Noticing your clothes fitting better and your body becoming more toned will feel amazing. However, aside from the physical appearance, just going through your daily routine easier and without becoming winded is possibly even more motivating.
3. Clearer Mind/Less Brain Fog
Have you ever felt like no matter how much you sleep, your mind still feels a bit slow and foggy? If so, then you’ll probably feel much better by getting that blood pumping.
If you want to become a better employee, student, or better in any task, exercise can help. It has been shown to improve intelligence and memory. Many scientific studies have suggested aerobic exercise can make new brain cells, known as “neurogenesis”, which can boost brain performance while avoiding memory loss.
4. Quality Sleep
Let’s talk a bit about sleep again. If you’re not doing so great with sleep, exercise can help make it easier for you to get some shuteye. There is a huge amount of people around the globe who battle with insomnia, and with screens surrounding us at all times it can be hard to shut our minds off and relax enough to fall asleep.
However, there is hope! Working out can make our body temperature rise, which consequently aids in relaxation of the mind and body. Due to this, you’ll find you fall asleep quicker and can stay asleep better – no waking up regularly throughout the night. Moreover, your circadian rhythm will be regulated more consistently, which can take you into a deeper sleep to allow you to wake up feeling refreshed. No more having to bargain with your alarm clock in the morning!
5. Helps manage depression and anxiety
If you’re suffering from depression and anxiety, first of all, you’re not alone. We understand that there may be times where you feel hopeless or unmotivated to do anything – and it seems like nothing can make it better. However, physical exercise has been proven to be an incredibly effective method in controlling both. Working out releases endorphins, which have a large influence over how happy we feel.
Even just 15 minutes of exercise a few times throughout the week can help improve symptoms in both the short-term and long-term. There’s a reason why it’s becoming more and more common for physicians to prescribe patients exercise regimens before looking at medications. While you may not feel like doing it initially, just mustering your way through the 15 minutes will pay off. It could very likely get easier and easier, to the point where you look forward to your exercise routine!
There’s the common misconception that you need to go all-out, exercising at a rigorous pace to see these benefits. Actually, with just 20 minutes of brisk exercise, you’ll be able to take advantage of them! Walking and running are some of the easiest activities to do, as most people have a place they can do either one and you don’t require any special equipment or making any purchases.
If you don’t have a safe space to run/walk or the weather isn’t looking too great, try out a recumbent stationary bike or elliptical machine. Both of these options are low impact, so even if you don’t have great balance or strength yet, they’ll allow you to build both safely. On top of that, many compact models will take up barely any space.
While aerobic workouts are those that most seem to feel most comfortable with, strength training is also crucial to include in your routine. Lifting free weights is the best option for most as it burns the most calories and doesn’t force your body into certain positions like some machines do, but if you don’t have any, there are plenty of plyometric exercises to provide strength training and cardio benefits.
Now that you’ve had the chance to learn all about the mental benefits that physical exercise provides, have you figured out which activities you’ll start with? What’s most important is that you just get moving. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated – as long as you’re sweating you’re getting better in some way or another. Thanks for tuning in and happy exercising!