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How Exercise Affects Mental Health

Being physically active rather than leading a sedentary lifestyle can sharpen your mind and improve your overall mental health, according to research.

The NIH (National Institutes of Health) reports that aerobic exercise and other types of movement are associated with a reduction in both depression and anxiety.

Engaging with a regular form of exercise that raises your heart rate for at least 20 minutes each day can strengthen your physical and emotional health.

It can also help you avoid problems like depression or even substance abuse.

And while there are treatment programs and an addiction hotline you can call to overcome these issues, the best thing you can do is avoid them in the first place.

You don’t need to run long distances or lift weights at the gym every day to achieve these benefits, either.

Choose an activity in line with your fitness levels, commit to daily exercise, and enjoy the domino effect of positive effects on all aspects of your health.

The effects of exercise on mental illness by Demystifying Medicine

8 Powerful Mental Health Benefits Promoted by Exercise

1. Exercise is an effective stress management tool.

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2. Improve the quality and quantity of your sleep by exercising daily.

3. Exercising regularly can improve your overall mood.

4. An appropriate exercise regime can help relieve the symptoms of depression.

5. The better you look, the better you feel: become more self-confident through exercising.

6. Exercising raises your energy levels, leading to heightened productivity.

7. Joining a gym or attending workout classes can strengthen your connections with others.

8. Get physically stronger and become more resilient in the face of life’s stressors.

Exercise is an effective stress management tool

The past two years have been especially challenging for most people, with the ongoing pandemic creating many new stressors.

The American Psychology Association reports that 32% of adults in the US found themselves so stressed by the ramifications of coronavirus that they struggled with simple decisions – dressing and eating, for instance.

Stress reduction is one of the most powerful reported benefits of exercising.

When you exercise, blood circulation is increased, and at the same time several areas of the brain related to mood, motivation, and stress are positively affected.

So, use exercise as an efficient and proven stress management tool or as a healthy means of preventing stress from consuming you in the first place.

Improve the quality and quantity of your sleep by exercising daily

Exercising regularly should help you to enjoy a more consistent and restful sleep.

Researchers still don’t fully understand why physical activity improves sleep. It is understood that exercise promotes slow-wave sleep.

Also, exercise helps stabilize your mood, enabling you to transition more easily into sleep.

Regardless of the science underpinning exercise’s role in sleep, the more active you are, the better you will sleep at night.

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The more rested and rejuvenated you feel in the morning, the better your mood and overall functioning.

As with most aspects of health, physical benefits spill over into improvements in your emotional and mental health.

Exercising regularly can improve your overall mood

Exercising causes your body to release endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers are also responsible for creating a sense of happiness and wellbeing.

Even if you only manage to exercise for 30 minutes a few times each week, this can be enough to trigger positive changes in your mood.

Even better, once you establish the routine of exercising, you have a failsafe method of boosting your mood on demand.

An appropriate exercise regime can help relieve the symptoms of depression

Clinical studies show that exercise can improve the symptoms of major depressive disorder. In some cases of mild and moderate depression, exercise can be as effective as antidepressants.

Not only does exercise help relieve the symptoms of depression, but exercising consistently can help prevent symptoms from returning.

The better you look, the better you feel: become more self-confident through exercising

On a simple and superficial level, sustained exercise will improve your physical appearance.

It’s no secret that you feel better when you look in the mirror and see the best version of yourself, and this improvement in self-esteem carries over into other aspects of life.

Exercising raises your energy levels, leading to heightened productivity

If you have been spending too much time on the couch, you’ll find that exercising more frequently will lead to an uptick in your energy levels.

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Starting out with just a gentle walk each day will increase your heart rate and circulation, causing you to feel more energized.

As you consolidate your exercise regime, you’ll find you have more motivation and energy, and you should find this translates to improvements in productivity as well as your mood and mental health.

Joining a gym or attending workout classes can strengthen your connections with others 

The caliber and breadth of your interpersonal relationships can play a pivotal role in your mental health.

If you struggle to form new friendships and relationships, signing up for a gym class or joining a sports club can connect you with others with similar interests.

Even though you might not think of this as a primary benefit of exercising, it will improve your mental health at the same time as making you fitter and stronger.

Get physically stronger and become more resilient in the face of life’s stressors

If you choose to engage in more vigorous exercise like weight training or heavy cardio work, you’ll soon find yourself becoming demonstrably stronger.

As you become more robust physically, you should feel more capable and resilient in the face of life’s routine stressors.

Whichever form of exercise you choose and however often you exercise, doing something is much better than nothing, and all forms of exercise can deliver evidence-based benefits for your mental health.

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