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The Tremendous Benefits of Exercise for Improving Your Mental Health

A person running Unsplash photo by Gemilang Sinuyudhan

While no one is a stranger to the great benefits exercise can have on your physical health, the mental and emotional health benefits are equally astounding but are often overlooked. Exercise is one of the most effective tonics that help you naturally relieve stress, and it is often recommended in therapy and stress management programs.

Regular physical activity provides us with a wide range of mental benefits such as alleviating anxiety, controlling blood pressure, managing the symptoms of depression, fatigue, anger, and several other mental health concerns etc., only to name a few.

Below, we’ll examine how exercise helps you improve your mental and emotional health.

It helps alleviate anxiety, depression and helps feel better.

When you exercise, your body promotes all kinds of healthy changes in the brain, including neural growth, new connections and releases chemicals with cannabis life effect in your body, also known as endorphins. These chemicals promote feelings of relaxation, wellbeing, boost confidence, energize your spirits and lift your mood.

It is interesting to know that according to a study, exercise relieved symptoms of mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medications, and of course, without any kind of side effects. Moreover, exercise quickly helps reduce anxiety by de-stressing your body, boosting your physical and mental energy and enhancing your wellbeing and overall sense of euphoria through releasing a rush of feel-good chemicals such as endorphins and dopamine in your body.

Improves brain function and memory

During exercise, your blood circulation increases, and so does the supply of oxygen and valuable nutrients to your brain. This supercharges your thinking abilities and provides you with a wealth of cognitive benefits. A study found that exercise can actually increase the size of your hippocampus, which is the part of the brain associated with verbal learning and memory.

Even 20 minutes of exercise each day has proven to increase concentration, working memory and energy levels. All of these benefits, coupled with a reduction in stress, anxiety and depression, give you access to a mind that is much better at thinking positively and has a greater ability to tackle the challenges of life more effectively.

Improves your self-esteem

Stress and illness go hand in hand. Experiencing one can reinforce the other. But when you exercise, you tackle both mental and physical stressors and save yourself from several health issues in the long run. Exercising allows you to become more healthy, overcome physical limitations, avoid obesity and maintain your desired body shape and weight. Increased physical strength not only contributes to better cognitive functioning but better appearance also improves self-confidence, self-love and heightened self-esteem.

Exercise is also an excellent way to release frustration, healthily discharge your anger and gain much better control over your emotions. Exercise makes your brain more focused, alert and better able to tackle mentally challenging tasks more effectively. In this way, it helps you look great, feel strong and have a positive attitude.

It helps overcome boredom and negativity.

Stress often occurs due to boredom, inactivity and an accumulation of tension that is not released. When you are used to living a sedentary lifestyle, you often experience overthinking, rumination and negative thoughts. Doing nothing and staying home all day only promotes pessimistic thoughts and increases your chances of developing a mood disorder such as depression.

Exercise helps fight all these factors by providing you with a healthy activity to kill boredom, keep yourself engaged and your mind away from pessimistic thoughts. Seeing improvements in your physique also provides you with a sense of accomplishment. Moreover, exercise gives you a healthy and safe way to blow off some steam which also has tremendous therapeutic effects.

Better sleep and increased energy levels

Sleeping is our body’s natural recharge time, where it recovers its energy and heals itself. Sleep is as essential to our health as is eating and exercising. But due to inactivity and unhealthy living patterns, our internal body clock can get misaligned, leading to poor sleep quality and insomnia. Certain forms of exercise, such as running, also increase serotonin production in your body, a hormone involved in your sleep-wake cycles.  

This can help your body readjust your natural sleeping patterns and alleviate insomnia. Individuals with a regular exercise routine are less likely to have insomnia and sleep problems. Better sleep then translates to more relaxation, less fatigue and tiredness, and more concentration during the day. Also, when your body gets used to exercising, it starts to produce more energy to meet your needs, thus increasing your energy levels.

Exercise enhances your sexual performance.

Exercise can promote a more muscular physique and weight loss, which translates to increased testosterone and sex drive in men. Even a total of 2.5 hours of exercise per week increase your testosterone levels by 15% and lowers your chances of hypogonadism by 46%, which is a condition that leads to low sex drive and increases erectile dysfunction. It also tones your muscles for more stamina and a more adventurous and fun sexual experience.

For women, just 20 minutes of exercise can increase genital blood flow and arousal by 169%. Exercise also helps control your blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels that might cause problems for your sex hormones. In this way, exercise increases your libido for both men and women and puts your sex drive in high gear.  

The takeaway

Exercise can provide you with a wealth of health benefits, both in the physical and mental domains. And you don’t even have to spend hours each day grinding at the gym, as even 30 minutes of daily exercise like cardio or walking can provide you with these immense health benefits. This minor adjustment of daily exercise in your routine can prove to be the one big step you take towards improving your wellbeing and changing the course of your health and your life for the better.