5 Amazing Mental Benefits of Exercise
Jun 13, 2019
It’s no secret that physical exercise is good for your physical health. It can help reduce your risk of chronic illnesses and promote a healthy weight and muscle mass. But we don’t often talk about the mental benefits of exercise—and there are many. In fact, getting regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your mental well-being.
Top Mental Benefits of Exercise for Everyone
Even a little exercise each day can positively impact your mind. Here are some of the main ways exercise can make a difference mentally and emotionally.
1. Exercise for Depression and Anxiety
Exercise has many benefits for those living with depression or anxiety. It can help relieve stress and tension, release mood-enhancing endorphins, and boost overall physical and mental well-being.
Some studies also show that, in some situations, exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication in treating mild to moderate depression. It may also help prevent the development of depression.
Exercise can also promote more mindfulness, which is incredibly powerful for mental health. As you move, you become aware of your body and your breath going in and out. This can bring you back to the present moment and out of your head.
In addition, many people suffering from mental illness are also at a high risk for chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Exercise may not only help improve mental health but also physical health in the process.
2. Stress Relief from Exercise
Many of us live with daily stress from work, family, and life in general. This can take a toll on our mental well-being over time.
Exercise can help:
- Release tension in your body associated with mental stress. Relieving tension in the body can help bring peace to the mind, and vice versa.
- Stimulate production of norepinephrine and other hormones that boost mood and cognition.
- Promote communication between your body’s sympathetic and central nervous system to help you better handle stress as it comes.
3. Better Focus, Concentration and Memory
The “feel good” hormones your body produces during exercise can also help improve mental acuity and concentration.
Studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise can trigger neurogenesis—the creation of new brain cells. This may help prevent memory loss and other cognitive decline while also boosting brain performance. Those are mental benefits of exercise that remain with you for many years as you age.
4. Deeper Sleep
If you struggle with getting proper sleep, exercise may help. Physical activity can calm the mind and regulate circadian rhythm, promoting more regular and deeper sleep.
Even gentle movement like stretching or yoga in the evening can encourage better sleep.
5. Greater Feelings of Self-Confidence
Getting physical exercise regularly improves endurance, builds lean muscle mass, and keeps your body healthy overall.
Exercise can naturally promote a better sense of self-worth and confidence in what your own body can do, which may extend into all parts of your mind, body and soul wellness.
The Bottom Line
You can start experiencing the mental benefits of exercise today. Even just a few minutes of activity can make a big difference—and you might begin noticing the benefits immediately. Start small and work up to at least 30 minutes five days a week. Your physical and mental health are worth it.