For many people, exercise is synonymous with physical health. But did you know that regular workouts can also improve your mental health? Physical activity has been shown to boost the production of feel-good chemicals in the brain and to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, while intense exercise (such as running or cycling) can increase levels of dopamine, the chemical that regulates your mood and drives you to seek out rewards like food and sex.
Exercise Reduces Stress
Exercise is a proven stress-reducer and can help you live longer. As any gym-goer knows, there are plenty of direct physical benefits to working out regularly, but regular workouts may also lead to reduced anxiety, improved mental clarity, and more restful sleep at night.
By changing how you think about exercise and striving for consistency, you’ll quickly experience life-changing improvements in both body and mind. Do what you enjoy, however that may be—just get moving!
Studies have shown that regular workouts can help you cope with stress and manage anxiety. In one 2014 study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers surveyed 1,077 women about their activity levels and self-reported symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Those who reported higher levels of activity were also less likely to report symptoms of these conditions. Similar results have been found in other studies across different groups as well—so it’s not just a fluke! A quick workout is an easy way to reduce stress even if you don’t think you’ll feel like it at first.
Exercise Improves Sleep
Sleep is one of, if not THE most important things for mental health. Getting enough sleep is crucial for emotional stability, as it allows us to handle stress better and maintain a positive attitude. Exercise provides immediate results when it comes to improving our quality of sleep.
Not only does exercising release natural feel-good chemicals in our brains—neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin—but it also helps our bodies physically relax after we finish working out. This is especially true with workouts that are performed within an hour or two before bedtime. It’s during these hours that we prepare ourselves mentally and physically for sleep, so make sure you use them effectively!
Improving our sleep has been shown to significantly decrease levels of stress and anxiety, while also improving concentration and memory. When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies are overworked and stressed out, which can lead to an increased risk of depression, weight gain, irritability, fatigue, and even diabetes! All in all, getting at least 8 hours of quality sleep each night is absolutely vital for keeping mental illness at bay. Exercise is one key way we can achieve that.
Exercise Can Eliminate Brain Fog
One of the best things about exercise is that it keeps your brain sharp. Exercise can eliminate brain fog, stimulate new neuron growth, and increase productivity. Just 20 minutes a day can make you feel like a brand-new person!
Even if exercise isn’t your thing, other forms of physical activity, such as yoga or tai chi, offer similar benefits. If you want to feel more alive and clear-headed (and who doesn’t), all it takes is some daily movement. For one thing, doing so gives you more energy throughout the day and improves focus.
Aside from eliminating brain fog, exercising has a number of other benefits. Exercise can help you sleep better and reduce stress and anxiety, as well as make you more alert. You’ll also be better able to focus on other tasks that require mental stamina—and they do!
Aside from all of these benefits, exercising may seem like an obvious move because it’s good for your physical health. But research suggests that it could be just as beneficial for your mental health. In fact, studies suggest that people who are physically active have less depression and fewer cognitive problems related to aging than those who are sedentary.
And physical activity can even alleviate symptoms of depression in adults with major depressive disorder (MDD). Starting an exercise therapy program is an amazing tool for improving brain function and general wellbeing!
Exercise Releases Happy Hormones
Exercise releases endorphins, which is why you feel so good after a hard workout. It also releases serotonin and norepinephrine, two hormones that are associated with better mental clarity and moods. Plus, working out can make it easier for you to sleep well at night because of its effect on melatonin levels (this is especially true if you’re consistent with going to bed and waking up at regular times).
All of these reasons mean that there’s an increased chance of you experiencing an improvement in your mental health while exercising regularly.
The more physical activity you get, in general, is linked with an increased sense of overall well-being. One study found that exercising can increase levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, which are hormones associated with better moods and lower rates of depression.
Exercise also releases endorphins, which is why you feel so good after a hard workout. The reason for all these happy feelings? It’s because of neurochemical changes in your brain caused by exercise. Your physical state influences how neurochemicals act—meaning that when you’re healthy (mentally and physically), they have greater effect on your state of mind.
Exercise Gives You Energy And Stamina
If you’re feeling depressed or anxious, exercise can help. Exercise gives you energy and stamina, helps relieve stress and anxiety, and even increases endorphins — brain chemicals that make you feel good.
Aerobic exercise is best for improving mood. It involves repetitive motion of large muscle groups (like running or swimming), causes an increase in heart rate, makes you breathe faster, and increases oxygen levels in your blood.
Studies show exercise is effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. One study showed improvement within three months for people with moderate depression if they exercised regularly (20 minutes a day).
Other studies show aerobic exercise does not work as well for severe depression or if you only start exercising after being depressed or anxious for a long time.
Being active will give you a natural high and help keep depression or anxiety at bay. You’ll feel better because you’re taking action, not just relying on medicine or therapy, and exercising may even make it easier for you to face day-to-day challenges.
Start with a goal of simply taking a daily walk — start slow so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. In no time, you’ll notice an improvement in your energy levels and a reduction in stress, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness. The extra strength and stamina will help you get more done, too. It might even lead to greater self-confidence — which can be just as good for mental health as getting physical activity is!
Weight Lifting Relieves Depression And Anxiety
There are many documented benefits of weight lifting, and weightlifting can also be a great way to help relieve depression and anxiety. Lifting weights produces a response in your central nervous system called mental fatigue.
This feeling lasts for about 15 minutes after you’re done lifting, but it helps you feel less depressed and anxious. The more often you lift weights, the more often you’ll have that feeling; consequently, your stress level will decrease over time. Using resistance bands or light weights is a good idea if you have existing injuries that prevent full body weight lifting.
While depression and anxiety disorders affect millions of people each year, it’s still important to remember that there are lots of treatment options available. If you suffer from depression or anxiety, talking to a therapist is an effective way to learn about different strategies for overcoming those symptoms.
If you’re looking for more self-directed treatment, consider exercising more regularly. Aside from offering a range of other benefits, such as improving cardiovascular function and promoting weight loss, research shows that cardiovascular activity may also help with mood regulation.
For many people, weight lifting relieves depression and anxiety by giving them a sense of accomplishment and control over their own mental well-being.
Strength Training Keeps You Young And Energized
Strength training is one of those activities that you know has benefits for you and your body. You feel young, energized, and get in good shape—but you may not know that it also keeps your brain healthier for longer. Research shows a high level of muscle mass can help keep your mind sharper as you age; physical activity is a cornerstone of brain health.
It’s easy to convince yourself that another day on the couch or lying on an elliptical won’t hurt anything—but it will. Getting active can help keep you living a vibrant life well into old age!
By investing in a strength training routine that keeps you young and energized, you’re not only protecting yourself against age-related decline but helping reduce your risk of depression. Depression is linked with cardiovascular disease, which puts you at risk for heart attack and stroke.
In fact, each year depression results in 325 million days of disability around the world; three years earlier than if people hadn’t been suffering from depression. To start feeling younger, healthier, and more energized, try adding some strength training to your weekly routine! It may be just what you need to give your life a boost!
Exerpy is a mental health company that focuses on using exercise as therapy for those dealing with mental health concerns. If you’re finding yourself in that boat, you should give Exerpy a try. They offer a free trial that lasts a week in duration, and that’s more than enough to give you the head start you need towards feeling better.