10 Ways Exercise Can Boost Your Mental Health

More than a toned body and a healthy, pumping heart—one of the most underrated benefits of exercise is its impact on one’s mental health. People think mental health is a different aspect of one’s wellbeing. Some believe that to maintain a healthy mind, one must simply withdraw from toxic relationships and develop positive self-talk. This is true, but there is more work than that. To sustainably keep your brain healthy, one must consistently exercise. Our mind, body, and spirit all work together. It is essential to understand their interconnectedness.

Can exercise really help our mental health?

Do you sometimes notice that when you lounge on the couch for days, you just start becoming less productive and worse—you encounter unlovable thoughts? That’s your body begging you to move! Exercise doesn’t just help; it serves as a pillar of a healthy mind.

There is much more than the promise of a healthy body with exercise. Studies have shown that exercise has noticeable positive effects on self-esteem, stress reduction, and the prevention of mental health illnesses. If you’re not convinced, try taking even just 10 minutes of brisk walking, and you will see an instant positive difference in your overall mood.

Here are 10 ways exercise can boost mental health

Combats Depression

Millions of adults in the U.S. suffer from depression. While the most common treatment for this illness is through medication or psychotherapy—exercise is still a considerable alternative for mild or moderate cases. Physical activity is also known to release endorphins or our “happy hormones.” It could also be an excellent distraction from intrusive and undesirable thoughts.

Some people even switch their antidepressants with a regular exercise routine, and they’re getting just the same amount of benefits. However, depression needs to be taken seriously, so it is best to consult a psychiatrist about this before taking action. But hey, no harm will come from a daily 10-minute jog!

Eases Anxiety

Anxiety has been reported as one of the “most common psychiatric illnesses in the U.S.” It stunts our progress with our day-to-day functions, and it messes with our sleep. Like depression, most anxiety patients are prescribed medication, but not everyone responds well to this form of treatment. Exercise can be a safe route for those who do not prefer traditional prescriptions.

Manages Stress

Believe it when people say that they can sweat their stresses away. Increased heart rate can reverse stress by helping with the production of norepinephrine and other neurohormones. These neurohormones help prepare your mind for stressful events. While you move, exercise allows your central and sympathetic nervous system to coordinate and strengthen your body’s ability to respond to stresses. Plus, it inevitably releases endorphins to put you instantly in a good mood right after a sweaty sesh.

Helps with self-esteem and self-confidence

Let’s be realistic. You cannot expect abs to pop after just a week of sit-ups. The toned body that you are aiming for may still be several gym trips away from achieving—but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel good about yourself in the process. Exercise can produce fantastic benefits to your mind. It’s no surprise when you think that you are the hottest, flyest bee in town after a sweaty session because it’s true, and you should own it!

Better Sleep

One of the easiest ways to understand the relationship between sleep and exercise is this: exercise tires you, which makes you want to get some sleep. Say goodbye to nightmares that keep you up in the middle of the night, too! The anxiety-reducing benefits of exercise will give you a relaxing time without staying up all night.

Here’s a tip if you want to avoid sleeping late: try exercising during daylight hours so that your sleep schedule will be at par with your circadian rhythm. You’ll notice a more stable mood and better cognitive function after having good sleep hygiene.

Better Focus

When we are physically active, our brains release dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin—these hormones affect attention. With so much distraction in this digital age, it’s sometimes challenging to be productive. If you feel like your brain doesn’t allow you to concentrate, try squeezing some exercise into your daily routine!

Earlier, we mentioned that exercise can be an alternative treatment for mental conditions such as Depression and Anxiety. Here’s one more to add to the list: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD.) Patients with ADHD often find themselves struggling to focus. Proper exercise is seen as an alternative treatment and a necessary activity for patients’ better overall brain health.

Improves Memory

Our hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for our brain’s capacity to learn and remember things. As we grow older, it shrinks—especially in late adulthood. But what if we told you that you could hack your memory game through exercise? A study from NCBI showed that aerobic exercise effectively increases the hippocampal volume by 2% and thus reversing the effects of worsening memory as we age.

Provides Improved Overall Brain Function

The benefits of a healthy mind may overlap with other aspects of your life. For example, low levels of anxiety will not only make you happier but will also help you sleep better. Better cardiovascular health will make you happy by releasing endorphins and giving you a more positive self-image. With this, it’s no surprise that there are way more advantageous effects of exercise that we still haven’t learned about yet.

But as far as your cognitive function is concerned, physical activity will undoubtedly make you brighter. Cardiovascular exercise produces new brain cells in neurogenesis—a process that further strengthens the brain and reduces the risks of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. This further proves that exercise not only provides benefits short-term but also long-term.

Helps With Creative Thinking

The words of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche have never been more accurate in the name of mental fitness: “Sit as little as possible. Do not believe any idea that was not born in the open air and of free movement—in which the muscles do not also revel.”

You don’t need to become an artist to struggle with creativity. Creativity helps us with our day-to-day lives by devising solutions to our problems. Our creative ability just makes life astronomically interesting. A study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine has shown that bodily movement has actively improved its participants’ creativity and mood. So if you find yourself in a creative block, go on a quick jog like the novelist Haruki Murakami does, and you should be back with motivation and inspiration.

Potentially Strengthens Social Relationships

Humans are social creatures, and our connectedness with others helps us survive as a species. That’s a known fact! It’s And sure, working out has benefits when you’re doing it yourself; but it’s more fulfilling when you do it with your friends. Socializing and accomplishing feelings of connectedness with other people can help reduce loneliness—more so if you are doing a mood-boosting activity. So the next time you think about going on a jog or signing up for a fitness class, try calling up a friend to run the miles with you. It’s always a good decision to be accompanied by people you trust.

How to Start Exercising

There is no denying that exercise will undoubtedly lead to a healthier mind. You owe it to yourself to be healthy! But how does one start building a habit for an exercise routine? Here’s a tip: think of exercise as your “happy pill” and not just a chore that the world tells you to do.

Find the right exercise for you.

The goal is to get moving and not have a six-pack (though that one won’t hurt.) There are so many kinds of exercise to choose from. If you are more on the competitive side, you can try sports. If you want to get more into the groove, you can sign up for dance classes. If you enjoy challenging your body by lifting heavy weights, you can sign up for a gym membership. The goal is to find something that doesn’t feel forced on you.

Make the time

It’s always easy to say that we will start exercising soon. But once you put a date and a time for it, that’s when it becomes more real. Schedule an hour or two in your calendar every day for an exercise sesh. You won’t have any more excuses not to make time!

Get great activewear.

According to a concept called Enclothed Cognition, our clothes affect our moods and performance. Find fun and comfortable activewear for your workouts, and you will feel the shift from couch potato to workout mode.

Be consistent

It’s all about the consistent habits that create a massive difference in the long haul. It’s always the first time that’s the hardest. But we assure you that the moment you finish your first session, things will only get better from there. We know it isn’t the easiest thing in the world to stay consistent in something you’re not used to. We wrote an article about it! You can check out the 6 Ways To Motivate Yourself To Exercise Consistently here.

So what’s the upshot of all this?

You are not your thoughts. Sometimes, your body just begs you to give it more love by moving. While most people think that mental and physical health are not connected, they are actually very at-sync. Working out has a lot of physical and, more importantly, mental health benefits in our moods and cognitive functions. They help us focus more, sleep better, and even allow us to foster meaningful relationships with our peers.

Exercise is seen as a productive alternative to medications in mild to moderate cases of conditions such as Depression, Anxiety, and ADHD. Physical activity provides short-term and long-term benefits, such as a lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. While exercising can give so many benefits to our mental health, it is still necessary to seek help by consulting professional psychiatrists and or psychologists.

Exercise is very accessible, and there is no reason one shouldn’t make time for it. It’s like eating, sleeping, or other necessary actions for survival. To start, you must find time, make time, put on activewear, and be consistent. That’s it, and then the rest will just follow through.

If you don’t know where to invest in quality activewear that will withstand all your exercises, you came to the right place because we have the perfect pieces for you!

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