The mental health benefits of exercise
by Freya • 3 minutes read
Last updated: 13 Jun, 2022
You may see exercise as something that just helps with building muscle or weight loss, but that is not the case. Exercise can have some amazing benefits for your mental health, not just your physical health and fitness. This could be anything from weight training to aerobic exercise.
Here is a list of different ways in which exercise can be a positive attribute towards mental health.
When you are stressed, often your body will take on the impact, you will feel tense all over and this can lead to pain in your back, neck, and shoulders. It can even cause headaches and stomach-aches, which in most circumstances can lead to more stress.
Exercising releases endorphins in the brain while helping relax the muscles, allowing your body to release its tension and an improved mood. When your body feels better it can help encourage your brain to feel better and reduce the amount of stress that occurs.
Studies have shown that regular exercise can be an effective relief for depression, while it might not cure it completely it definitely has a positive impact in reducing your depression.
When you exercise it releases endorphins in your brain that will allow you to feel good and energised. It also encourages positive changes in growth, in the brain, reduces inflammation and promotes feelings of content and calmness.
Exercise will also give you time to step away from real life and clear your brain as you are distracted from thinking about all the things that bring you down.
Similar to stress, anxiety can make your body feel tense and exercise can help release this tension as well as boost your physical and mental energy through endorphins.
If you are exercising to help reduce your anxiety, you need to make sure that you are paying attention to your workout instead of zoning out, if you do so then it will not be effective. Paying attention will allow you to focus just on the workout instead of letting your brain drift off and thinking about your anxieties.
This can be difficult when attending a public gym, it may be best to go early in the morning later in the day as this is when gyms are usually quieter and it will help with concentrating if there are less things around you to distract you. If even the thought of a gym causes anxiety, you can gain confidence from home workouts and when you're comfortable you can make your way to a gym.
It can also be a good idea to have a gym buddy, this can help with inside distractions e.g. anxious thoughts, as you will have a friend to make you feel more comfortable and relaxed.
In the long term, regular physical activity can be a great benefit for improving mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. If you can implement an exercise program into your schedule, even 30 minutes a day (this could be a 30 minute walk), this can drastically improve your quality of life.
- IMPROVEMENTS IN PSYCHOSOCIAL FUNCTIONING AND HEALTH-RELATED QUALITY OF LIFE FOLLOWING EXERCISE AUGMENTATION IN PATIENTS WITH TREATMENT RESPONSE BUT NONREMITTED MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER: RESULTS FROM THE TREAD STUDY - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/da.22521
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