A lot of people have felt it. You’ve just finished a workout in the gym; you walk out and can’t help but smile. The sun shines brighter as you feel its warmth on your skin, the air has a certain crispness to it as you inhale and you go about your day with a spring in your step, stopping to appreciate the bloom of a new flower and the wagging tail of your dog as you’re greeted when you return home. This is not because you’re just having a good day, this is you reaping the benefits that regular exercise has on your mental well-being.
Mostly, people will join a gym to undergo some kind of physical transformation. Whether it be to lose weight, increase cardiovascular fitness, tone up or increase muscle. Whilst working towards these goals, what concurrently prevails is an overall sense of well-being. Once they’ve started, people who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. Beyond this, it’s also a powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.
Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. It can also get you out in the world, help to reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation, and has great social benefits, putting you in contact with other like-minded people. All this contributes greatly to alleviating common symptoms of anxiety, stress and depressive disorders. Exercising not only can alleviate this, but it can prevent the onset of such disorders and contributes greatly to the well-being of each and every person.
How exercise can help improve your mental well-being:
Better memory and sharper thinking. The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp. This has great benefits for increased work productivity and study requirements. It increases the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory. It also increases the connections between the nerve cells in the brain. This improves your memory and helps protect your brain against injury and disease. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent the normal decline associated with age.
Higher self-esteem. Regular physical activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. Exercise can illicit your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful. You’ll feel better about your appearance and, by meeting even small exercise goals, you’ll feel a sense of achievement. Exercise goals can be related to anything. It can simply be setting a goal to move 4 times per week, it can be achieving a certain weight loss or it can be developing a new skill. Achieving these goals will provide you with a sense of accomplishment and contribute positively to maintaining regular exercise habits.
Better sleep. Getting to the gym regularly can help regulate your sleep patterns by allowing you to fall asleep easier and achieve better quality sleep. This is due to the positive effect exercise has on anxiety, depression and stress. Exercise also works to increase your core body temperature. The natural reduction in core body temperature that occurs later in the day and following exercise can also make you feel drowsy and fall asleep easier.
More energy. Feeling engergetic? Exercise! Feeling exhausted? You should definitely exercise! It’s been well understood that regular exercise makes you feel more energetic. The days that you don’t feel like it, are the days that it’s most important. It doesn’t have to be strenuous, a 15 minute walk with the dog is suffice!
Stronger resilience. When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you build resilience and cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to food, alcohol, drugs, or other negative behaviours that ultimately only make your symptoms worse. Moderate to intense exercise is especially beneficial to build resilience and character.
Better health. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress, resulting in fewer bouts of common illness.
Despite all the physical benefits of exercise, it is clear to see how going to the gym regularly can positively impact your overall well-being and help you to remain consistent with your training. Whilst you’re working to improve your physical health, take a moment to reflect on the benefits exercise is having on your mental health as well.
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