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May 10th 2022 | Recent Posts Jay Honstetter

How Exercise Improves Mental Health

Physical fitness and exercise have been linked to improved mental health time and time again. While someone who suffers from anxiety or depression may find it extraordinarily difficult to motivate themselves to get started, the benefits are substantial and the results are proven to be valuable. Studies have been done repeatedly and the results are in - exercise is linked to improved mental health and well-being. Don’t take our word for it, conduct a quick Google search and you’ll be a believer in no time.

Of course the issue is getting up and getting started, but once you do you’ll be glad you did.

Here are some of the benefits of physical activity on mental health:

Decreased Stress

Exercise increases the production of neurohormones which improves mood and cognition. When your heart rate rises it supports the production of norepinephrine which helps your body respond to stress. Physical activity also aids in reducing tension in your body and relaxing your muscles, which makes you feel calmer, and reduces stress levels.

Reduced Anxiety and Depression

Working out elevates endorphin levels in the brain which ultimately make people feel really happy. It reduces stress, relieves tension, and increases both mental and physical energy. It’s important to focus on your movements and muscles, count reps, and not zone out - this added mindfulness assists in keeping worries out of your head. Even moderate exercise - a 15 minute walk once or twice a day - can be beneficial for people suffering from anxiety or depression.

Better Sleep

Sleep deprivation will make a person feel tired all day, have impaired judgment, an inability to focus, lead to mood swings, and can cause a person to gain weight. Exercise helps balance your circadian rhythm while also raising your body’s temperature - which lends a calming effect on the mind and allows you to sleep better. Just don’t exercise too close to when you want to sleep, because it also increases energy, and can make it hard to to nod off at your intended bedtime.

Improved Concentration and Reduced ADHD Symptoms

Physical activity boosts the production of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels in the brain which all play a role in improving concentration, memory, motivation, and mood. It also strengthens the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning) and creates new brain cells (a process called neurogenesis).

Improved Self-Esteem and Confidence

Any time a person is reaching goals it has a profound influence on how they feel and carry themselves. Losing weight, toning, gaining muscle, strengthening bones, the ability to wear clothes you couldn’t fit into before - all of this leads to higher self-esteem and increased self-confidence. Each small fitness goal met is a feeling of achievement and increases how a person values themselves. And a better appearance always makes a person feel more confident.

The tie between physical fitness and mental health is undeniable and it is crucial in helping people deal with conditions from ADHD to PTSD, anxiety, depression, and beyond. While some people may still need the help of medication, others may realize that exercise is enough to help them deal with whatever issues they are facing. And either way it can open up a whole new world for people who may be struggling.

Before taking on a new fitness regimen it is important to consult with a medical professional to find the right routine for you.