Exercise and physical activity can have an immensely positive impact on your mental health.
Exercise triggers the release of many different chemicals in the brain, including endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, which can help to elevate your mood, regulate and improve your sleep quality, relieve pain, and even reduce stress.
Want to know more? Here are just 6 ways that regular exercise can improve your mental health:
- It can help to combat depression and low energy.
Exercise promotes changes in the brain, helping to stimulate feelings of calmness. It also releases endorphins, which instantly help you to feel good and more energised.
As low energy is often linked to depression, regular exercise could also help to boost your energy levels and promote a ‘can do’ attitude.
Exercise can also be a great distraction from the stress of everyday life and help you to work through negative thoughts and stressful situations which can lead to low mood and anxiety.
- It can help to relieve stress.
When you are stressed, your body automatically feels tense, especially in the neck, shoulders, and face, which could leave you with back and neck pain, or even frustrating, tension-type headaches.
Moving your body and exercising helps to relieve stress by relaxing the muscles and releasing any built-up tension in the body. If you suffer with stress on a regular basis, exercise is one of the best ways to help give you head space which in turn can help you to feel calmer and more collected.
If you’re looking for effective, natural ways to deal with stress, Freeletics, the lifestyle and fitness app offers ‘focus and de-stress’ audio courses which include guided meditation sessions that focus on teaching you how to train your mind to deal with stress via proven coping mechanisms and breathing techniques which can help you learn how to identify emotions and deal with them properly.
- It can reduce anxiety.
Exercise can be one of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety, diverting your brain from the things you are anxious about and helping you to zone out.
Focusing on exercise, i.e., the sensation of your feet hitting the ground while running, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing can help to combat anxiety and interrupt the flow of constant worries and anxiety running through your head.
- It can boost your brain power.
The feel-good endorphins released during exercise not only make you feel better, but they can also help you to concentrate and feel mentally sharp.
Research shows that cardiovascular exercise is effective in creating new brain cells, helping to increase memory function, learning ability and overall brain performance.
As this type of exercise increases your heart rate, it pumps more oxygen and nutrients to the brain, possibly helping to prevent a decline in cognitive health and memory loss.
- It can help build self-esteem.
Short term, exercise enhances mood and helps to block out negative thoughts.
Long term, regular exercise will help to improve your confidence and self-esteem, helping you to feel better about your body and improved fitness levels.
Viewing your body in a positive light and celebrating its achievements can help build self-esteem, helping you to feel more powerful and self-assured, positively impacting your mental health.
- It can help you sleep soundly.
Making the time to do a workout in either the morning or evening can help to regulate your sleep patterns, which can have a positive affect on your mental health.
If you are someone who prefers to exercise at night, relaxing and calming exercises such as yoga, or stretching is beneficial, helping to prepare your body for sleep.
It has also been proven that moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of deep sleep you get, enabling the body and brain have time to refresh and rejuvenate.
Although, some people may find that exercising before bed keeps them up at night, and if that is the case, it would be more valuable to exercise in the morning, afternoon, or at least 2-3 hours before going to sleep.