Exercise not only keeps us physically healthy but also mentally healthy. Research shows that people who regularly engage in physical activity have better mental and emotional health. According to the National Library of Medicine, exercise helps increase mental alertness, enhance mood, and reduce stress.
Harvard Medical School reports that exercise can enhance cognitive functions like memory and thinking skills. In addition, regular exercise can reduce insulin resistance, and inflammation and stimulate the growth of new brain cells. In addition, it also encourages the growth of chemicals that affect the growth of brain vessels.
In this article, we will discuss the positive impact of exercise on our mental health. So let’s get right into it.
- Helps With Depression
Unfortunately, depression is a common problem in our society today. According to Harvard University, 1 in 10 Americans in the United States has depression. However, antidepressant pills are not the only solution to depression. According to Dr. Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, exercise is also an adequate remedy.
Low-intensity exercise consistently sustained over time improves our brain functions, which in turn helps us feel better. People who are depressed have a smaller hippocampus. Hippocampus is the region that regulates our mood and having a smaller hippocampus can lead to depression. However, exercising aids nerve cell growth and enhances nerve cell connections in the hippocampus, which helps relieve depression.
Depression has many causes, and one of them is Substance Use Disorder (SUD). If you or anyone you care about suffers from depression due to SUD, you can get help from professionals like the ones at Serenity At Summit. They have world-class facilities available for treatment.
- Helps With Anxiety
Anxiety, like depression, is also a common problem in our society. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) states that anxiety affects approximately 40 million Americans.
Exercising regularly can also help you fight anxiety to some extent. You will feel the effects just five minutes into your workout. According to the ADAA, studies have found that exercise reduces stress and improves mood, sleep, and self-esteem.
When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins that act as natural pain killers, improving your ability to sleep and reducing stress. In other words, when your body feels good, so will your mind. In addition, exercise also reduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline in your body.
Lastly, exercise reduces fatigue and improves focus, alertness, and overall cognitive function.
- Improves Confidence
When you first start exercising, it will not be easy. However, over time it will become something you tolerate, enjoy, and depend on. Indeed, all this requires discipline. You do not have to start with 1000 pushups on the first day. You can start small, say five pushups, and then build from there. With discipline, your body will transform, which will improve your self-image. It will also give you a sense of pride, confidence, control, and mastery. Your discipline with exercise will also spill over to other areas of your life.
- Improves Sleep
Sleep quality has a direct correlation to our mood or how we feel. According to experts, exercise does indeed improve sleep quality and help you fall asleep faster.
While we do not understand everything about sleep yet, research shows that exercise increases the amount of slow-wave sleep you can get. This is because your body needs slow-wave sleep to recover from everyday life’s stresses.
In addition, exercise can also improve your mood and clear up your mind. Charlene Gamaldo says that is a prerequisite to a good night’s sleep.
However, do keep in mind that when you exercise matters. For example, if you exercise too close to your bedtime, it might cause you not to sleep well. The reason is that exercise raises your body’s temperature, which has the same effect as taking a hot shower in the morning. A rise in temperature tells the body’s clock that it is time to stay awake.
- Build Mental Strength
Mental strength is very crucial. Every day we face life’s curveballs, which require a strong mind. People who are mentally weak turn to methods that are not healthy such as alcohol or drugs. In return, they compromise not only their physical health but also their mental health.
Turning to drugs or alcohol during tough times can also lead to addiction. In return, addiction can cause a host of health problems like:
● weak immune system
● heart problems
● brain damage
● lung disease
However, when you regularly exercise, you build mental strength, which helps you healthily cope with life. It will also help boost your immune system, protecting you against diseases.
Mental health is crucial to overall well-being. If your mental health is compromised, chances are your physical health will be as well. If you do not address the issue, you risk falling into bad habits like drugs due to problems like depression or anxiety.
To make sure that does not happen, we recommend you start exercising regularly. It provides countless benefits, including combating depression and anxiety. It will also improve your confidence and discipline, positively impacting other areas of your life. Lastly, it will improve your sleep quality and mental strength.