Many people pursue various workout routines and physical exercises as a way to boost their physical health, maintain an ideal weight, trim down or build muscle.
But, did you know that physical exercise can also enhance your mental health? Regardless of age and workout intensity levels, setting aside time for physical exercises is known to positively influence your mental health. Moreover, it can also be a powerful and helpful medicine to alleviate mental health issues. The best thing is that you don’t need to be a fitness guru to enjoy all these benefits - undertaking moderate exercises consistently can make significant differences to your mental health.
Whether you’re looking for motivation to hit the gym or get out of your house for a brief walk, here are a few ways exercise can improve your mental health.
1. Reduces Stress
If you’ve noticed, some people prefer scheduling their daily workouts or gym sessions after their shift at work. That’s because doing some exercises helps them relieve stress, especially if they had a tough day at work. Even a quick workout can already do much in reducing stress levels.
Scientifically, when you exercise, your body releases more norepinephrine, a body chemical that controls your brain’s response to stress and recover from it both physically and mentally. So when you have a rough day at work, go for a long walk, bike around your neighborhood, or hit the gym and get sweaty. Not only will it make your body release mental tension and lower stress levels, but you’ll also reap the physical benefits.
2. Sharpens Your Memory Skills
Another way exercise can improve your mental health is by sharpening your memory skills. The more you sweat due to physical activity, the more your body produces cells in the hippocampus that are often used for learning and memorisation. That’s why it’s common for healthcare providers to recommend children to be more physically active and engage in sports at a young age as these will help boost brain development and enhance memory skills.
But, these mental benefits aren’t only for children; they’re recommended for adults, too. In Australia, athletes, like those who run sprints frequently, have more enhanced vocabulary retention than adults who have a sedentary lifestyle. So, suppose you’re ready to commit to lifestyle changes and get started with your fitness journey. In that case, you can sign up for physiotherapy sessions at Physio Ashgrove or other physiotherapy clinics, and they’ll help you engage in physical exercises or sports activities suited for you.
3. Better Sleep Quality
For people having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, it’s recommended that you perform more physical exercises during the day. Doing exercises will increase your body temperature and calm your mind, and put you in better sleep at night. Moreover, intense physical activity also signals your brain to feel more tired, making it easier for you to stay asleep throughout the night. Overall, exercise is known to regulate your body’s circadian rhythm, making you more in control and in sync with your body clock.
4. Boosts Happiness
While running on a treadmill for longer hours may sound challenging and exhausting, it’s definitely worth the effort. When you exercise, your body releases more ‘happy chemicals’ called endorphins, making you feel euphoric and putting you in a happy state. This shows that your physical habits and mental health are connected. For this reason, many healthcare providers recommend frequent exercising, especially to people suffering from anxiety or depression, or even those who are constantly feeling sad and blue on a daily basis.
In short, exercise will serve as your happy or antidepressant assistant whenever you’re feeling down. You don’t need to be a pro gym-goer to enjoy these benefits - even a 30-minute workout can already boost your overall mood.
5. Better Self Confidence
There are plenty of physical achievements you can get from regular exercise. Exercise helps maintain your ideal weight, improve body endurance, build muscles, and increase muscle tone, and many others. All these achievements can lead to better self-confidence and boosted self- esteem. Even if the light exercises you do may not quickly transform you into the models you see in fitness magazines, the act of exercising can already quickly elevate your perception of your self-image and positively affect your self-worth.
Doing regular exercises can help alleviate stress, sharpen memory skills, improve your sleep quality, boost happiness, and enhance your self-confidence. Now that you have more reason to stick to your workout routine and be consistent with your exercises, you may start your fitness journey on the right foot and proper mindset.