We all know we should exercise regularly to maintain our physical health, but what about our mental health? Maybe you’ve noticed the boost in energy you get when you exercise, or perhaps you’ve experienced a “runner’s high” after a great workout. In this article, we’ll go over the positive effects that a regular exercise routine can have on your mental health.
- It relieves stress. Exercise provides a physical outlet for stress. By getting your body moving and increasing your heart rate, you can release tension rather than holding it in. Physical activity releases endorphins that leave you feeling happier, calmer, and more at ease, and it also reduces adrenaline and cortisol, which are related to stress. Exercise is a healthy coping method that you can turn to time and time again when you’re feeling stressed out, rather than reaching for junk food, alcohol, and other distractions. Plus, regular exercise keeps stress levels in check so that they don’t rise to problematic levels as often.
- It has a positive impact on mental health disorders like PTSD. When you’re living with a mental health disorder, exercising is often the last thing you want to do. But if you can get yourself up and moving, chances are that exercise will make you feel much better in both the short-term and the long-term. Exercise can even relieve symptoms of PTSD, among other mental health disorders! Several studies have looked at the relationship between Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and exercise, and the research concluded that after a few months of regular exercise, people with PTSD experienced less symptoms, lower levels of depression, and improved sleep. Check out Mind Diagnostics for a free PTSD assessment.
- Exercise can improve your confidence. This isn’t just because getting in shape can make you feel more positively about your appearance, although that is one of the benefits of exercise. But exercise can also improve your confidence as you complete challenges and meet small goals you’ve set for yourself. For example, if you’ve ever had a smartwatch or a pedometer, think about how good it feels when you reach your daily step goal!
- Regular exercise can help you get better sleep. Don’t underestimate the value and importance of a good night’s sleep! The sleep you get truly sets the tone for the day ahead, and a lack of sleep can cause issues throughout your day. Exercise can improve your sleep by cutting back on the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. Regular exercise also alleviates sleepiness during the daytime, reducing the need to take naps.
- Exercise can improve your memory. Multiple scientific studies have suggested that people who exercise regularly have larger brain volume in the areas that control thinking and memory. This growth can happen over a short time span as well, after around six months to a year of regular exercise. Exercise may improve memory indirectly by improving sleep and mood, as well as by reducing anxiety and stress, since issues in these areas can lead to impairment of cognitive functions like memory.
You surely already knew that regular exercise has wonderful benefits for your physical health, but now you’re aware of the amazing effects it can have on your mental health as well! From stress relief to alleviate symptoms of mental health disorders, to improved confidence, sleep, and memory, it’s easy to see that regular exercise is truly invaluable for both mental and physical health. So what are you waiting for? Find a form of exercise that you enjoy, and implement it into your weekly schedule!