Mind And Body: The Mental Benefits Of Exercise
Working out regularly is crucial for your overall health and well-being. However, as much as exercise matters when it comes to improved physical conditioning, it’s also vital for your mental health.
In addition to improving your aerobic capacity and becoming stronger, leaner and more flexible, staying in shape also contributes greatly to your overall sense of well-being mentally.
For many people, the mental benefits of working out are just as important as the physical, and for many more, they are arguably even more important.
Whether you run, swim, surf, do yoga, play team sports, ride your bike, use home gym equipment, take martial arts classes, play tennis, golf or do any other form of exercise, you will likely have noticed how you are in a better mood by the time you are done.
Exercise allows for the release of endorphins that are designed to make you feel great, boost your mood and give you more mental focus and clarity. Following a regular workout schedule will also help you to build self-confidence, foster a feeling of self-worth and even help to improve your sleep.
With so much to be gained from simply exercising, we should all be doing what we can to exercise more regularly so we can take advantage of both the mental and physical benefits that working out can deliver.
Let’s take a look at just some of the mental benefits that exercise can offer and why you should make exercise a priority in your life.
Boost Your Mood
As mentioned above, when you exercise, endorphins are released in the brain. These powerful chemicals help to boost your mood and make you feel great. Studies have shown that exercise is as effective as treating mild depression as many antidepressant medications.
However, unlike the use of drugs, exercise doesn’t come with any serious side effects. The study found that walking for one hour or running for just fifteen minutes per day can reduce depression by up to 26%, which is incredibly significant.
Regular exercise also promotes neural growth, reduces inflammation and trying new activities can also promote feelings of well-being and calmness. In addition to the scientific evidence, exercise is also a welcome distraction for anyone who is suffering from depression and can help to steer you away from the constant cycle of negative thoughts that can contribute to feelings of depression.
Feel Less Anxious
Whether you suffer from anxiety or you feel anxious from time to time, exercise can be a huge help. Working out regularly is a completely natural and highly effective way to treat anxiety as it reduces tension and stress while also boosting your mental and physical energy in the process as endorphins are released in the brain.
If you are exercising specifically to help you to overcome your anxiety, it’s important to stay tuned in to what you are doing rather than getting lost in the task at hand or zoning out while you’re working out.
For example, if you are running, try to focus on how it feels each time your foot connects with the road or try to be present when it comes to your breathing. Pay attention to how the sun feels on your face or how the wind feels on your back and start taking strides towards improving your fitness levels while also interrupting the flow of worry that many anxiety sufferers have to deal with.
Avoid Being Stressed
When you’re stressed, the muscles in your body tend to tighten up and become tense. Almost everyone has experienced this at some point and you may felt this tension in your neck, face and/or shoulders when you have been stressed in the past.
This tension can often lead to headaches, neck pain or back pain and can be very irritating to deal with. Many people that suffer from stress also experience issues such as stomach aches, heartburn and difficulty sleeping. These physical symptoms typically lead to additional stress, resulting in a vicious cycle between body and mind.
Exercise is one of the best ways to mitigate stress and instantly feel more at ease and relaxed. Endorphins being released in the brain will certainly help as does the distraction of working out However, working out also encourages the muscles in your body to relax, relieving tension in the body and therefore minimizing your stress. When your body feels better, ultimately your mind does too, which will help you to relax and feel more at ease moving forward.
Reduce ADHD Symptoms
Did you know that exercise also helps you to focus more and pay attention to what you are doing with greater ease? When you work out, dopamine levels in the brain are increased, along with norepinephrine and serotonin levels. ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Adderall work in a very similar way in the body.
However, exercise is a much more natural, healthy and more affordable way for you to achieve these same results. To increase your attention span and be better able to focus, make sure that you work out regularly and start taking major steps towards putting your ADHD behind you for once and for all.
Adopt a Regular Exercise Program And Start Experiencing The Mental Benefits
Working out can sometimes feel like a chore. However, if this is the case, all you need to do is find a way to exercise that you enjoy and that challenges you to some degree. You don’t need to become a world-class athlete to start experiencing the benefits of regular exercise.
In fact, you don’t need to do very much at all. Simply dedicating thirty minutes to one hour a day to working out can help you to start feeling better both mentally and physically.
Go for a bike ride with the family, go kayaking, play basketball with your mates, go for a walk with the dog, or simply put on your favorite playlist and dance like no one’s watching. The key is to find something you enjoy, be consistent and soon, you will start looking and feeling better than you ever thought possible.
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