Weight-loss, muscle strength, toned body and a healthier heart – these are all proven physical benefits of exercise. But what about the effects on mental health? These benefits are not nearly as tangible but may have an even more prominent impact on us. Here are our top 5 mental health benefits from exercise.
1. It reduces stress and anxiety. Stress is an inevitable part of life. But knowing that something as simple as going for a walk will make it more manageable is an invaluable incentive. Scientists have proven that consistent exercise will decrease overall levels of tension, and stimulate anti-anxiety effects. Exercise is often the number one recommended coping technique by health care professionals – and its free too!
2. You are HAPPIER! And who doesn’t want to be happy? Aerobic exercise is known to produce endorphins in the brain which trigger a positive feeling throughout the body. These endorphins help to naturally minimize discomfort and in turn bring about a feeling of euphoria, confidence, and general well-being.
3. It improves your sleep. If you are prone to tossing and turning in your sleep, exercising can help change these unfavorable sleep patterns. By strengthening circadian rhythms, working out can help you stay more bright-eyed during the day while deepening your quality of sleep at night. Studies conclude that people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get upwards of 2.5 hours of exercise a week. So as little as a 30-minute walk or cycle, 5 days a week, can dramatically improve the quality of your nighttime siesta.
4. You are more productive. With less stress, more energy, and a winning sleep schedule, it is no wonder that people are much more productive in their daily tasks. Working out at the start of your day can boost self-confidence, help you focus on your tasks at hand, and in turn allow you to be more productive throughout your work day. It has also shown an increase in job satisfaction for many.
5. It sharpens your memory. The hippocampus is a part of the brain that grows as people get more fit. This fragment of the brain is the core contributor to a person’s learning and memory systems, therefore easily explains the memory-boosting effects of improved fitness. As you age, your body produces fewer and fewer brain cells – a process called neurogenesis. However, consistent exercise can help prevent this slowdown. Working out also increases blood flow to the brain, thus being a significant factor in retaining more information throughout the day.
Exercising in healthy doses while maintaining a wholesome diet will spark a considerable amount of mental benefits over time. It is more than just losing weight and achieving a certain look; it impacts your mindset, boosts your happiness levels and genuinely helps you live longer. Having a bad day at work? Writer’s block? Feeling scatterbrained and don’t know where to start? Go take a hike, literally – it will do wonders for you.
- Written by MiCacao Contributors