MIND AND BODY: THE MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF EXERCISE
We all know how good exercise can be for our physical health, and most of us go to the gym with the aim of becoming fitter and leaner, but a regular training schedule can also improve our mental health. Today’s post is going to discuss the benefits that exercise can bring to our mental wellbeing.
Perhaps the most common reason for beginning an exercise routine is because we want to improve the way we look. Whether it’s about dropping the pounds or toning our physique, the physical effects of spending time in the gym are undeniable. This improvement in your appearance not only makes you look fantastic, but it also makes you feel great about how you look.
And the changes don’t have to be enormous. Even a small amount of progress can be enough to boost your confidence when you look in the mirror and put a spring in your step as you walk down the street. The great thing about this feeling is that you carry it with you all day long because, after all, you’re always in your body.
In response to exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins to numb the pain that can accompany a good sweat session. This is why some people report feeling a ‘runner’s high’ when they really go the distance. In addition to this, the brain floods with serotonin – a natural chemical that makes you feel happy.
Regularly engaging in moderate to high intensity exercise therefore has a positive impact on our mood which can last long after we leave the gym and has even been found to be an effective means of treating mild to moderate depression. Sufferers of depression are often prescribed medications which seek to correct chemical imbalances in the brain and artificially boost the same ones that are released during exercise. While we’re not encouraging anyone to ditch their medication in favour of the treadmill, exercise is a proven and medically recommended way to both prevent and treat depression https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/exercise-for-depression/
Another way in which exercise can improve your mental wellbeing is by giving structure to your healthy life. Committing yourself to 3 or 4 sessions a week means that you have to plan out which days you’ll go to the gym, how you’ll prepare for this (cooking, gym kit, travel etc.), and what you’ll do when you get there. Many people struggle to enjoy their free time because they fritter it away without really doing anything. A solid routine means that you accomplish more because you know you have a set amount of time do a task.
Moreover, this can help you to keep to a regular bedtime and ensure that you’re tired enough to sleep when your head hits the pillow. We all know how much of a difference a good night’s sleep can make to our mood – or we certainly do when we don’t get our 8 hours! Taking all of this into account, regularly engaging in exercise is good for both mental and physical health and we should all strive to keep to a regular fitness routine if we want to be healthy inside and out.