We all know that exercise is key to great physical health, but it’s also vital to embrace the benefits it has on our mental health. It embeds a sense of well-being into our lives, gives us more energy to kick goals and seize opportunities in our days, and it also has a profound impact on mental illness. Regardless of fitness level, stamina or how often you hit the gym or take a run, frequent exercise can have an incredible effect on our minds. Here’s how:
It improves sleep
One of the best benefits of staying fit is its impact on sleep hygiene. Even exercising lightly and in short bursts assists in regulating sleeping patterns. Movement triggers an increase in body temperature, and can reduce insomnia by aiding arousal, anxiety or depression.
It helps decrease depression and anxiety
It’s a well known mood-booster, but did you know that exercise can also decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety too? Moving around triggers endorphins (the happy or ‘feel good’ chemical) to spike in our body, which lead to feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Sustained exercise habits can benefit anxiety and depression thanks to the release of endorphins, making it a key element in healing for many.
It helps decrease stress levels
Stress: we all feel it. Whether it gets us down from time to time, or it’s a major player in our everyday life, it wreaks havoc on our wellbeing. One of the best ways to combat stress is exercise – it can trick our bodies into melting the stress away. Powered by a combination of the release of endorphins, the increasing of our heart rate and the focus on the central and sympathetic nervous system, exercise helps people improve their overall cognitive function and can enable our bodies with the tools to successfully fight stress.
It enables us to think more clearly and have a sharper memory
Improved cognitive function goes hand in hand with improved physical fitness. The same endorphins that help us to feel good play an important role in the cognitive realm as well. They enable us to think more clearly, process communication more seamlessly and feel overall more mentally sharp for any task. It’s also worth noting that exercise encourages new brain cells to grow, and helps slow down age-related mental decline.