Most of us are aware that exercise is good for the body. It helps to burn calories, build muscle and increase our general fitness. But, one of the biggest impacts, is the benefits of exercise for mental health.
So what are the key mental benefits associated to exercise?
- Improved mood
- Increased energy and vitality
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Improve sleep quality
- Reduce stress
- Create positive habits
How does exercise improve my mood?
When you exercise, your body and brain produce hormones and neurotransmitters that have a direct impact on your mood. Some of these are known as endorphins, the body’s “feel good” chemical.
After a good workout, you may feel tired but also relaxed, with a sense of accomplishment. This translates directly to mood.
Increased energy and vitality
Studies have shown, that by exercising several times per week, your energy levels go up. This is because, when you increase your heart rate consistently, your body develops a greater level of endurance.
You don’t have to push it too hard, start with 10-30 minutes of walking a few times per week.
Reduce anxiety and depression
Exercise can help with reducing anxiety and depression in many ways. First, there is the “feel-good” factor from the release of the endorphins. Then of course there is the healthy distraction. Exercise can be a great outlook for re-aligning your focus and attention to something positive.
There is also, the confidence that can come along with regular exercise and of course the social interaction of places like gyms and swimming pools.
Improve sleep quality
Exercise can help improve your quality of sleep. For adults, the action of moderate to intense training sessions can help with the onset of sleep, or the time it takes to get to sleep. That means when you “hit the hay” you will notice yourself falling asleep quicker than usual.
Following on from the information above, stress can be reduced as a benefit of exercise for mental health. Stress is often created by physical matters, affecting our mental state. If we get more sleep then we get more rest. The more rest we get the more relaxed we feel. It sounds counterintuitive, but by exercising more, you will get more “genuine” rest.
Working out and increasing your heart rate in positive ways gives you an outlet to get rid of some frustrations or internal stress. And sometimes we just simply need to let it out.
Create positive habits
Exercise can create positive habits that improve your mental health. This works like a compounding effect. You start with small steps, perhaps a 30-minute walk. This develops into 1 gym session in a week.
Because you are now working out, you start to think about food and your recovery. All of a sudden, you are more comfortable, more confident and with a clear mind. You start to think about when to work out. Thoughts like, should I train in the morning or the evening today? How can your daily walk fit into your schedule?
We hope that you have enjoyed the article, and have begun to understand the benefits that exercise can have for mental health.
The Olympic Pools and Fitness Centre is always around to help you work on both your physical and mental health.