We all know that exercise is great for improving health and fitness levels – however – we often overlook the fact that exercise has an immensely positive effect on our state of mind. I’m going to tell you about the vast benefits exercise can provide for your mental health and prove to you that exercise should be the drug of choice for improved psychological wellbeing.
BOOSTS YOUR MOOD
There have been many studies into the effect of exercise on mood and the conclusion is that the connection between exercise and mood elevation is strong. Exercise elevates mood by reducing feelings of fatigue and by the release of ‘feel good’ hormones and neurotransmitters. In fact, exercise can result in a 5-fold increase in blood endorphin levels – now that’s what I call an exercise high! Because exercise increases your level of energy and vitality, it also results in a more positive outlook and increased life satisfaction.
IMPROVES SELF CONFIDENCE
Physical activity and sports participation has been proven to be associated with improved self-image and self-esteem. Exercisers experience improved psychological well-being with reduced anxiety levels and fewer social problems. Feeling comfortable with who you are has a significant effect on quality of life and it appears exercise can help enhance your ability to love yourself. Get moving and you will consequently start to appreciate the person that you are.
STRENGTHENS YOUR WILLPOWER
Exercise has been proven to strengthen your willpower by helping to generate a positive health momentum. And this positive health momentum is not limited to exercise alone. In fact, individuals who exercise are more likely to eat well and engage in other healthy behaviours (such as sleeping better and improved stress management) – all of which leads to a positively reinforcing virtuous cycle. The improved self-discipline and concentration that results from exercise will help prevent set-backs in your health and fitness journey – thereby meaning your goals will be achieved sooner rather than later. No complaints here!
EFFECTIVELY REDUCES STRESS
Stress is extremely detrimental to both your physical and mental health. We all know this – however –these days it seems experiencing stress is almost as common place as brushing your teeth. I have good news though – exercise is a cheap and effective counter to stress and can be considered an effective antidepressant.
Exercise helps relieve stress by:
1. Reducing your physical and emotional reactions to stress
2. Strengthening your physical and emotional reserved so your body handles stress better, and recovers more quickly
3. Serving as a welcome distraction from your stresses and worries
4. Triggering the release of hormones that promote relaxation
Feeling a stress attack coming on? Give yourself a good dose of exercise and you’ll fight it off before it takes hold.
IMPROVES BRAIN FUNCTION
Increasing your heart rate through exercise triggers physiological mechanisms that actually stimulate the growth of new brain cells –thereby helping the brain to function more efficiently. Exercise is also thought to improve cognitive function by increasing the flow of blood to the brain. Essentially, exercise can modify the way your brain works by improving short-term memory, creativity and the ability to think clearly. It also helps to clear mental clutter and prolong the survival of existing brain cells. Fancy increasing your IQ? Give exercise a go and you might just come out a few points higher.
Exercise clearly has many benefits beyond achieving your weight loss, gain or maintenance goals. If you want to thrive in all aspects of life, you need both your physical AND mental health to be in tip top condition and fortunately for you – exercise can ensure this is the case. Make exercise a regular part of your life and reap the benefits of having sound physical and mental health.