It is so easy for us to feel burnout and frustrated, especially during this time because of the pandemic. We tend to be more sensitive to minor inconveniences that arise, making us feel like we're losing control. Looking after oneself should not only be in physical form but also mentally. Exercise is one form that helps in easing certain mental health challenges.
How does exercise improve mental health?
Research shows that people who tend to exercise regularly have a reduction in the number of poor mental health days in comparison to those who don't. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It improves mental health by alleviating symptoms such as low self-esteem and negative behavior patterns.
Depression & Anxiety
It's been shown in studies that regular exercise is as effective as antidepressant medication. A natural way in decreasing symptoms of mild to moderate depression. In addition, it also helps in preventing relapses. It promotes neural growth and changes in the brain that promotes feelings of positivity. The feeling of anxiety and tension is replaced with relief and boosts your mental energy. Exercising is a good form of distraction from your worries that feed depression and anxiety. Making you feel much more energized.
Feeling a tightness around your chest, tensed muscles, headaches, and insomnia are some symptoms of stress. These make you feel really uncomfortable and builds up worry adding to even more stress. Physical activity relieves tension and stress by releasing helpful brain chemicals & hormones into the body. This results in a much more refreshed and calmer state.
Memory and thinking
When stress and anxiety are reduced we improve our concentration, memory, and thinking power. It helps our brain to stay sharp and focused.
When we improve our physical health our mental health improves too and vice versa. Regular physical activity makes us feel strong, empowered and increases our confidence. We feel more capable of coping and dealing with challenges. This gives our self-esteem a boost.
Having a regular sleep cycle will help you feel much fresher when you wake up giving a bright start to your day.
When we exercise our body releases certain chemicals and this helps instantly in making you feel better. They play an important part in regulating your mood. Ever heard of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and wondered what they do and how they help us? Well, let us look at some of these commonly known chemicals and what it does in relation to exercise.
Endorphins – The 'feel-good' chemicals are pumped up during exercise acting as a pain and stress reliever. It triggers a positive feeling in the body. Feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many strong workouts.
Dopamine – Physical activity stimulates and increases the release of dopamine. Post-workout you know how great you feel, these are the dopamine levels kicking in. Feelings of reward and motivation. It controls the movements a person makes as well as the emotional responses.
Serotonin – A key hormone that enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other. One of the ways your body uses this hormone is in regulating your mood naturally. This leaves you feeling happier, calmer, emotionally stable, and less anxious.
Health benefits of exercise
Some other health benefits of exercise include the following:
- Lifts up your spirits.
- Better endurance.
- Increases your energy and stamina.
- Helps you to lose weight.
- Reduces the risk of illnesses such as cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular-related diseases, etc.
- Promotes a healthy lifestyle.
When we understand how having regular exercise can improve our physical and mental health sticking to a daily/weekly routine is the real challenge. Sometimes the desire to do something followed by actually doing it sometimes takes a whole lot of willpower. Just remember putting in at least 10-15mins of exercise a day is something better than nothing. It makes a big difference.
Anything that adds to the well-being of our mental health is surely a plus side. So start exercising today!
Check out the article: Fitness Motivation and get started.
Author of Get Basic Idea – Knowledge Base.