Exercise and Mental Health

By: Maddie Boyer

It’s no surprise that exercise is important to your physical health. However, the benefits of exercising also extend to your mental health! While certainly some people are motivated by the appeals of a trim physique or stronger muscles, the positive mental consequences of exercising can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of life. We’re going to touch on some of the ways exercise can improve mental health.

Depression

When experiencing depression or depression-like symptoms, exercising may be the furthest thing on one’s mind. However, it may also be one of the best activities. Exercising releases endorphins, which stimulate your brain and create feelings of happiness and energy. It also reduces inflammation within the brain, contributing to feelings of calm. Studies have found that exercise can be as effective in treating depression as antidepressants. Not to mention, simply being outside can work wonders for mental health!

Anxiety

I have found that working out makes such a difference when I’m feeling anxious. In addition to boosting energy and releasing tension, exercising can be a great method of practicing mindfulness. Drawing your attention to physical sensations when working out can divert your focus from any anxiety cycles within your head. The act of focusing on your breath, your muscles contracting and relaxing, or the rhythm of your feet on the ground can recenter you.

Memory

Endorphins from exercise do more than just make you feel happier. These chemicals released from physical activity also can improve your concentration! Exercise can stimulate the growth of new brain cells and make it easier to focus, thus helping you retain more information. Next time you have a big test to cram for, maybe try hitting the gym right before hitting the books.

Self-Esteem

Exercising can have a big impact on your self-esteem. I’m talking about more than just skin deep and your appearance. Regularly exercising can deepen your sense of self-worth. By building habits and setting goals, you can develop a sense of achievement and feel stronger and more confident in your abilities. Who wouldn’t feel like they can conquer the world after a run?

Resilience

Personally, I tend to feel emotions very physically. From tension, to insomnia, to stomachaches, stress can cause so many physical sensations. Exercise can reduce these physical side effects of stress by releasing tension in your body, boosting your immune system, and strengthening both your body and your mind. It can also be a terrific outlet for dealing with any obstacles that life throws.

Exercise can have a huge positive impact on mental health. The good news is, effects can also be pretty immediate. After one workout, you’re likely to reap many of the positive wellbeing benefits. Even just going for a walk or doing 10 minutes of stretching or yoga can help improve mental wellbeing. Get moving, Deacs!

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Categories: Fitness

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