I’m sure you’ve heard countless times that exercising helps you increase energy and lose weight. Well, that’s certainly true but, there are also mental health benefits to exercising, some of which can be truly life-changing!
No matter how much you hate putting on your trainers, the mental health benefits of regular exercise can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.
What if just 2% of time out of your day is not only a way to get more physically fit, but also a way to improve your mental health, especially depression and anxiety. Here are the main benefits:
The most obvious and well-known benefit of exercising is that it affects your physique, helping you lose or maintain your weight. If you feel better about how you look physically, you’ll naturally feel better mentally. Being happy with your appearance may lead you to exercise regularly, which will boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.
Improve Your Mood
Need to relax after a hard day? Don’t head for a glass of wine! Physical exercise can do much more for your mood, and you don’t have to do an intense workout to reap the benefits. Any physical activity stimulates several chemicals in your brain that allow you to feel more relaxed. Yoga, for instance actually lowers levels of adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol. Excessive cortisol causes depression, impaired long-term memory and leads to what researchers call “food seeking behaviour”.
Get More Energized
Regular exercise can help you avoid that mid-afternoon slump in energy by strengthening your muscles and boost your endurance. Exercise sends oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and allows your cardiovascular system to work more efficiently. When your heart and lungs work better, you have more energy during the day. So, getting your body in motion puts more spring in your step.
Do you sometimes struggle to drop off at night? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep.
Exercise can get you out of the house and take your mind off the constant flood of thoughts in your mind. Whenever you have unscheduled time, your thoughts have more potential to become negative. Using that time for exercise can help redirect your thinking in a more positive and mindful direction and numb any negative emotions.
Healthy Coping Mechanism
Many people cope with life’s challenges by drinking, watching TV, eating excessively, or avoidance. These strategies can be ineffective and often make the problem worse. Using exercise as a way to manage anxiety, depression, and other difficulties is a much healthier coping strategy.
Release Happy Chemicals
Endorphins are released during exercise which help reduce symptoms of depression. When endorphins are released in the brain, immune system chemicals that can worsen depression are reduced and body temperature increases, producing a calming effect.
I hope that I’ve helped to convince you to get more physical or at the very least to walk more. It may be hard to take that first step and establish a routine, but if you suffer from anxiety, depression or even just a low mood for longer that you’d like, then I’m sure you’ll try anything to get relief and feel better. As a general goal, aim for at least 45 minutes of physical activity every day. If you are really stuck for time then why not try HIIT workouts that use just 2% of your day.