Most of us understand the many benefits of exercise for the body. But did you know exercise is also important for your brain?
Regular physical activity can have a positive impact on your sleep quality, mood, stress levels, and more.
Read on to learn more about the connection between exercise and mental health and how to experience the benefits for yourself.
The Link Between Exercise and Mental Health
Studies on exercise and mental health demonstrate that physical activity can have a profound impact on mental well-being.
Exercise is believed to improve mental health by increasing blood circulation to the brain, releasing feel-good endorphins, and influencing how the body responds to stress.
Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
With the clear link between exercise and mental health, it is no surprise that working out can have a positive impact on your mental state.
Here are 10 mental health benefits of working out.
1. Brainpower Boost
Are you dealing with mental fog? Exercise can help sharpen memory in several ways, including:
- Promoting the growth of new brain cells
- Preventing mental decline related to age
- Improving overall brain performance
- Releasing endorphins that help promote increased concentration and mental sharpness
2. Better Sleep
Struggle to get a good night of sleep? Exercise is a proven way to improve sleep quality.
Exercise helps improve sleep by regulating the body’s circadian rhythm, promoting feelings of relaxation, calming the mind, and releasing feel-good hormones.
To enjoy the benefits of exercise for sleep, avoid working out too close to bedtime.
3. Improved Self-Esteem
Exercise can boost your sense of self-worth, increase feelings of achievement, and improve your self-confidence. The longer you stick with it and the more goals you meet, the better you’ll feel and the more your self-esteem will improve.
4. Increased Energy
If you’re feeling down or can’t seem to find the energy to exercise, remember that you’ll gain more energy as you stick with it.
Exercise provides a natural boost that will help give you the motivation and energy you need to keep working out and making progress. Even if it is only a few minutes a day, start small and keep going.
5. Improved Stress Response
Exercise is a powerful way to reduce stress levels and improve how your body responds to stress.
Working out is proven to reduce stress by:
- Releasing feel-good endorphins such as norepinephrine to reduce cloudy thinking caused by stress
- Relieving tension
- Relaxing muscles
- Promoting communication between the body’s sympathetic and central nervous systems to strengthen the body’s ability to handle stress
- Improving overall mood
6. Improved Resilience
No matter who you are, life is filled with emotional and mental challenges. Regular exercise can help improve how you cope with tough situations and build your resilience.
7. Reduced Anxiety
During workouts, the body releases chemicals that can help decrease symptoms of anxiety. By providing a natural mental boost, calming a busy brain, and promoting mindfulness, an exercise is a powerful tool for naturally reducing anxiety.
To boost mindfulness when exercising, focus on your surroundings. This can be especially effective if you are exercising outdoors. If you’re outside, pay attention to the feel of the wind on your skin, the warmth of the sun, the looks of the trees or clouds, the smell after it rains, and any other elements you notice.
8. Increased Creativity
Feeling stuck and looking for some inspiration? Exercise can provide a boost in creativity. Whether it’s in your personal or professional life, 30 minutes of exercise can help boost creativity, increase productivity, and help you perform better overall.
9. Increased ‘Happy Hormones’
Working out is proven to provide a powerful mood boost. By increasing ‘happy hormones’, exercise is a natural way to improve your mental well-being and increase feelings of contentment.
10. Increased Relaxation
For many people, an exercise is a form of relaxation. If you had an especially tough day or feel your mind racing, take a break to go for a walk in nature, dance to your favourite music, go for a hike with a friend, or take a fun fitness class.
Tips on Getting Started With Exercise
If you are feeling down or stressed, it is more important than ever to get active. However, even if you understand the link between exercise and mental health, it can still be hard to get started.
If you are struggling to find the motivation to get started with exercise, start small and count any bit of activity as a step in the right direction. Even short periods of exercise can be enough to experience benefits for your mental health.
Here are a few more tips for getting started with exercise :
- Wear comfortable workout clothes
- Reward yourself
- Set clear, attainable goals
- Find a friend to exercise with
- Attend a group fitness class
- Sneak in a walk on your lunch break at work
- Instead of watching your favourite tv show at night sitting on the couch, walk in place or perform some squats, pushups, or tricep dips
- Find active hobbies you enjoy (kayaking, swimming, gardening, biking, rollerblading, dancing, jumping on a trampoline, hiking, etc.)
How Much Exercise Is Needed for Mental Health Benefits?
Australian guidelines recommend 30 minutes of physical activity daily (or most days). If needed, you can break the requirement up into 10 or 15-minute increments.
Want to Learn More About Exercise and Mental Health?
Research shows that even small amounts of exercise can have a positive impact on mental health.
Are you noticing a link between lack of exercise and mental health but aren’t sure how to get started with a workout routine? Our team of expert trainers is here to support you every step of the way. We understand the physical and mental benefits of exercise and find passion in sharing these benefits with our clients.
Whether you are brand new to exercise or have found yourself in a rut, we’d love to help you get on track to your health and wellness goals. We take a personalised approach to wellness and know each of our clients by name. With a range of classes, we have options for all fitness levels and interests.
Contact our team with any questions or to find out which class is the best fit for your fitness level and goals.