You already know that exercise is good for your physical health. But did you know it can also help improve your mental health?
Don’t be mistaken, exercise is not just about big guns and aerobic capacity. It is absolutely true that exercise will help improve your physical wellbeing and enhance your physique, but that’s not what motivates most people to stick with staying active. Exercising gives you a range of benefits that can include improved memory, sleep quality, energy levels, relaxation levels and overall positivity. It is a very powerful prescription for those who experience common mental health challenges.
And you don’t have to be a fitness freak to reap the rewards of exercise! No matter your age, gender or fitness level, using exercise as a daily tool will help you get more out of life.
Exercise & Depression
Exercise is great at fighting depression for a couple of reasons. It promotes neural growth, reduced inflammation and promotes new activity patterns that enhance feelings of calmness and well-being. It also releases endorphins – powerful chemicals in your brain make you feel good can serve as a distraction, allowing you to find time to break out of a cycle of negative thought patterns.
Exercise & Anxiety
Exercise helps mitigate the effects of anxiety by relieving tension and stress whilst boosting physical and mental energy. Once again, the release of endorphins will help you feel better and practicing mindfulness during the performance of the exercise will help interrupt the flow of constant worrying running through your head.
Exercise & Stress
Stress is an often overlooked mental health struggle. It can leave you tense and suffering from chronic pain – particularily in the neck, back and head. Exercising is an effective way to break the cycle of stress, as well as interrupt the pattern of behaviour that ultimately leads to that stress. Exercise will help release endorphins in the brain and the actual physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body.
Other Benefits of Exercise
Even if you’re not suffering from a mental health problem, regular physical activity can still offer a welcome boost to your mood, outlook, and mental well-being. You don’t have to be suffering from a particular mental health problem to reap the rewards of exercise. Regular physical activity will improve your mood, overall outlook on life and sustain a positive mindset.
Sharper memory and thinking. The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand.
Higher self-esteem. Regular activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. When it becomes a habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful.
Better sleep. Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help improve sleep quality.
More energy. Increasing your heart rate several times a week will give you more get-up-and-go. Start off with just a few minutes of exercise per day, and increase your workout as you feel more energized.
Stronger resilience. When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you build resilience and cope in a healthy way. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress.
It’s Easier Than You Think
You don’t need to be David Goggins to see results. Just 30-60 minutes of moderate physical activity five times a week is enough. Moderate exercise means that you breathe a little heavier than normal, but are not out of breath. For example, you should be able to chat with your walking partner, but not easily sing a song. That your body feels warmer as you move, but not overheated or very sweaty. And if you’re time-poor – break that down into shorter sessions or have a personal trainer come to your home to train you (like Forma). A mobile personal trainer will save you time normally spent driving to and from the local gym – plus give you a killer sport inspired workout that isn’t a mundane gym workout.
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