The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Most of us know the physical health benefits of exercising, such as weight management, increased energy, and reduced risk of diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. However, regular exercise can also be beneficial to our mental health.

Battling with your mental health can make life difficult. What may come easy to others may be a struggle for you. So it’s essential to have a few strategies you can turn to that will help improve your mental health. Exercise is an excellent way to do this.

Exercise Doesn’t Have to Be Challenging

Trying a simple activity like walking can still benefit you if you struggle with working out. It’s also important to choose something that you’ll enjoy. Keeping a consistent workout routine has been shown to improve overall well-being. It’s not necessary to devote hours to working out every day. Even just 30 minutes multiple times a week is enough.

The Benefits of Exercise

If you’re unsure of the mental health benefits of exercise, here are a few.

#1 Reduces Depression

According to a 2021 article, “Physical Activity Is Good for the Mind and Body,” physical activity reduces the risk of depression. Depression can sweep in and consume you, making it challenging to do daily activities. However, dedicating time to working out can change certain chemicals in your brain, which may improve your mood.

#2 Improves Sleep

Sleep is essential to managing your mental health. In an article published by the American Lifestyle Medicine Association, studies found that exercise improved sleep for adults struggling with sleep problems.

Poor sleep can affect your performance throughout the day. When you’re not getting quality sleep, your body doesn’t have a chance to restore itself. Moderate to vigorous exercise is all it takes to begin seeing changes in your sleep.

#3 Decreases Anxiety

Calming an anxious mind can be difficult. Being wrapped up in anxiety can affect your quality of life. However, regular exercise can help you relax, easing symptoms of anxiety.

One form of exercise that’s great for reducing anxiety is yoga. Yoga allows you to focus on your breath and your various poses. Each pose will enable you to connect with yourself and can alleviate anxiety.

#4 Improves Self-Esteem

Investing in your health can increase your self-esteem. You start feeling better about yourself when you take care of your mind and body. So, yes, exercise can enhance your appearance, but it can also improve your sense of self-worth, helping you shift your perspective.

#5 Boosts Cognitive Function

Physical activity is associated with better brain health. This includes improving memory and thinking. Working out can help you concentrate on your daily tasks and makes you more sharp and alert. Evidence suggests that exercise affects brain plasticity, which influences cognitive functioning. If you’re struggling to stay focused, taking a simple walk outdoors may help.

#6 Reduces Stress

Whether work or home problems, life’s stressors can negatively impact your mental health. However, regular movement can reduce stress hormones and increase the production of endorphins in the brain.

Any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever. When working out, the focus is on your body instead of your mind, which can be a good distraction from any stress you’re experiencing. When you become overwhelmed by stress, take a few minutes to move your body.

Starting Your Exercise Journey

Exercise is a great way to combat stress and alleviate depression and anxiety. You can start with moderate exercise, so you’re not putting too much pressure on yourself.

If you’re having trouble getting started, devise a workout plan that includes which days you’ll work out and what type of exercise you’ll do. If a full 30-minute workout feels like too much, begin by doing 15 minutes and gradually increase the length of time, you spend working out. Some exercise is better than none at all.

Staying Committed to Exercise

Even the smallest task can feel impossible when dealing with mental health struggles. However, taking care of yourself is crucial so your problems don’t progress. A regular workout routine can set you on the path to achieving optimal health. When you’re working out, you’re taking steps towards becoming a healthier you.

In the beginning, you may find that you’re very motivated to stick with your exercise plan; however, over time, that motivation may decline. If this happens, it’s important to remember why you started and what your goals are for your mental health. Then, stay committed to your plan.

Incorporating exercise into your life can significantly improve your mental health. Committing to becoming a healthier you is one of the most important steps you will take in life. It’s not easy and often requires self-discipline. However, the physical and mental health benefits you receive along the way are worth it. When you engage in physical activity, you send a message to your brain that says you want what’s best for you. At Alter Wellness Care, your mental health is our number one priority. We offer outpatient mental health treatment designed to meet the individual needs of each person who walks through our door. Your mental health matters and you deserve to receive the appropriate treatment. It’s our mission to make mental health care accessible. If you are struggling with your mental health, help is available. Call (866) 311-3510 to learn more. 

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