8 Mental Benefits of Exercise
It is a well-known fact that exercising and physical activities have several positive effects on the human body. Regular exercise reduces the chances of many illnesses like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and different kinds of cancer.
However, the lesser-known fact is, we get emotional and psychological benefits from staying active, too. Daily exercising can cure insomnia by improving sleep patterns, reduce anxiety, and lower the risks of depression.
Nowadays, when everyone is feeling dread about the Covid-19 pandemic, dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression has become more and more critical.
In order to achieve your best mental health, it is important to know how exercising can help. In this article, eight mental and emotional health benefits of exercise are highlighted.
What mental health benefits one can get from exercising?
Regularly getting involved in physical activities surely has a great impact on health and can improve your physique. Yes, daily exercising is going to help you in losing weight, fitting you into smaller size dresses, improving your sex life, and adding more years onto your life.
Those are great benefits, but the positive impacts of exercise don’t stop there.
There are other reasons as well that motivate people to keep on exercising and staying active.
Some common mental health disorders or challenges can easily be dealt with by properly exercising. Physically staying active can do wonders for your mind.For example, you can feel more energetic, have a better sleep at night, and feel relaxed throughout the day.
Making exercising a daily habit can better enable you to fight depression, ADHD, or anxiety. It reduces stress so you can have a peaceful sleep at night.
But don’t think that you have to do an intense workout every day to get mental health benefits. A moderate amount of working out is enough to get the mental health benefits that you need.
1. Exercise to help with depression
Prescribed medication may give relief from depression, but these drugs have their own side effects, too. A study has confirmed that daily exercising can cure mild to moderate depression symptoms without having to take medicine.
A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that moderate and normal physical activities like walking for an hour or running for 15 minutes can reduce by 26% the chances of suffering from major depression.
Exercising releases endorphins, which help us feel happy and energized. Plus, involvement in physical activities promotes positive changes in the brain, reducing inflammation and encouraging neural growth.
In addition, exercising can actually distract our minds from negative thoughts of getting depressed.
2. Exercise to get relief from anxiety
Anxiety is nothing but random negative thoughts that can make us feel panicked. If you continue to exercise daily, not only are you going to get a great physique and good health, but you can also keep negative thoughts away from your mind.
Focusing on your health and body is going to make you feel good about yourself. As mentioned earlier, exercising helps to release endorphins or “happy” hormones, which can relax your mind.
3. Exercise to reduce stress
Stress is a harsh cycle that can affect both your health and mind. When you are feeling stressed, you can feel your muscle becoming tensed, which eventually cause back pain and headaches.
Other than that, you may also feel nauseated, experience chest pain or muscle cramps, or suffer from insomnia when the mind gets occupied with too much stress. These health conditions can themselves cause more stress, which can make the whole situation worse.
Exercising is one powerful thing that can fight stress. Not only does it release endorphins, but exercising can also help in relaxing muscles to lessen the chances of getting tensed up.
It’s not rocket science to realize that body and mind are interlinked. If your body feels better, then obviously your mind will, too.
4. Exercise to fight ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder that can cause serious behavioral change in a person. It can impair your ability to focus on a task or control your behavior.
Exercising can help in concentrating on particular things, getting motivated to achieve something, and improving mood.
Physical activities can work the same as prescribed medications like Ritalin and Adderall to get relief from ADHD.
5. Exercise to win over PTSD and trauma
People suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) can suffer from nightmares or flashbacks of the traumatic incident as well as a continuous feeling of stress which can affect their whole system.
It's been proved through several types of research that exercising can help people affected by PTSD to get their nervous system “unstuck” and move on with their life.
The best choices of exercises to win over PTSD are exercises that involve a lot of movements, like swimming, running, weight training, or dancing.
Other than that, getting involved in other outdoor activities like hiking, trekking, sailing, or rafting has also been shown to reduce PTSD symptoms.
During this Covid-19 situation, if it is not possible to do outdoor activities, there is the option of turning your home or garage into a basic gym with minimum essentials for power lifting.
In addition to mental health, exercise can also improve mental functioning in general and your overall well-being.
6. Exercise to sharpen your memories and thinking
Endorphins not only relax your muscles and mind, but they also help increase your concentration power.
With growing age, everyone loses their ability to remember minute and sometimes crucial details. Regular exercise can stimulate the growth of new brain cells, which can help in sharpening memories and ability to pay attention to details.
7. Exercise to manage sleep patterns
Even if you exercise for a short span of time, it will help you to get a better sleep pattern at the end of the day. Similarly, doing a little bit of stretching or yoga at night can help to get deep and sound sleep.
8. Exercise to get strong resilience power
Heartbreaks, losing a job, or losing a loved one can be overwhelming and can cause major behavioral changes in a person. There is always a possibility that someone in pain may start using alcohol or drugs to escape the pain in their life.
However, alcohol or drugs can never be a solution. Regular exercise can help in dealing with all the mental and emotional challenges in your life in a healthy way.
Overcoming mental health disorders
It should be clear by now how exercise can make you feel better about yourself. Now it is up to you to decide when you will start exercising regularly.
There are certain situations where you can consider getting involved in physical activities, such as:
- When feeling exhausted
- When feeling mentally tired
- When feeling hopeless
- When feeling emotional pain
- When having negative thoughts about yourself
It is not important to get an expensive gym subscription to get better mental health. You can start small and practice daily. Maintaining a fixed schedule can help you to achieve a routine.
At first, the exercise may feel tiring and boring. In that case, try enlisting the help of others. Engaging with your family in activities or simply dancing to a beat can have the same effect on your mental health. Household chores like sweeping, cleaning, dusting, and gardening are also considered exercising.
Think of it as a fun part of your daily life, which can make you feel and look better and help you enjoy your life.
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