3 Ways Exercise Benefits Our Mental Health
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep many of us indoors, away from friends and loved ones, and unable to engage in activities we enjoy, the exhaustion from this lifestyle can be immense. The toll it takes on our mental well-being can be damaging if not dealt with correctly.
But what can we do?
Physical activity isn’t just for people who want to lose weight or get fitter or prepare for a marathon. Plenty of people use exercise as a way to improve their mental health in both good and bad times. We know that exercise benefits us physically and setting goals can focus our efforts, so what does it do for our minds?
Stress is an inevitable part of life, and we all react to life’s stressors differently. Where we’re the same, though, is how we can combat it.
Our bodies and our brains work together, so when one is affected by something like stress, so is the other. This relationship tells us that by improving how our bodies feel with exercise, our brains benefit from the increased activity too.
Even a simple walk around the block or doing a few push-ups before bedtime can relax our bodies and ignite a domino effect that’ll improve sleep, cognitive function, and memory, among other great mental health benefits.
Helps with mood, depression, and anxiety
It’s well-documented that physical activity helps the body release more endorphins, the so-called “feel-good hormone.” This chemical produced by the brain and spinal cord induces feelings of happiness, euphoria, and bliss. Physical activity pumps out so many endorphins that even just a few minutes of exercise will produce results.
By concentrating on whatever activity in which we’re engaged, we’re more capable of warding off negative self-talk and keeping our focus away from the intrusive thoughts that induce anxiety. Sustaining our activity into a regular pattern for longer periods of time can help us learn to better manage life’s daily worries.
Boosts self-esteem and self-confidence
Since endorphins make us feel good, it stands to reason we’ll see a boost in our self-confidence, too. You don’t need to get into exercise for weight loss or body-building to enjoy higher self-esteem and confidence in yourself. At the end of the day, we simply want to feel good in our bodies, and a more active lifestyle helps us achieve the mental wellness benefits that will find their way into all aspects of our lives.
But it’s not just exercise that can have an impact on our mental and physical well-being. Next time, we’ll discuss the role diet plays in our health and how the foods we eat affect both our minds and our bodies.