It seems obvious to most of us, but it’s worth remembering the direct and close link between mental health and physical health. Embarking on a fitness journey can lead us in the direction of goals like weight control, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of diabetes, but what about the psychological benefits? Whether you want to lessen brain fog, ease the feelings of depression and anxiety or keep your memory sharp, there’s a million and one ways that exercising benefits mental health:
It benefits depression and anxiety
Exercise has been scientifically proven to be a mood booster: it actively boosts endorphin levels which helps decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. This ‘feel-good’ chemical (produced by the brain and spinal cord) produces feelings of happiness and euphoria, which can even be felt through bouts of moderate exercise throughout the week.
It decreases stress
With a boost of brain power and happiness comes the automatic benefit of reducing your stress levels. By increasing your heart rate, the production of neurohormones like norepinephrine is triggered, which benefits cognition and boosts the mood. Exercise also makes the central and sympathetic nervous systems communicate with each other, which benefits the body’s response to stress, too.
It evokes better sleep
Have trouble nodding off? Moving your body can help with that, too! Physical exertion increases the body’s temperature, which leads to a calming effect on the mind. This calmness can lead to better sleep, also benefited by the regulation of our circadian rhythm.
It boosts your brain
Exercise can boost the power in your brain in a number of ways: from strengthening our memories to building intelligence, studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise can actually create new brain cells! Exercise is also known to prevent cognitive decline and memory loss by working the hippocampus.