Exercise does more than better your physical health, exercise improves your mental health as well. Sure, it can improve your physical health and your physique, build your muscle mass and your endurance levels, and even add years to your life.
People who exercise regularly report that it gives them a sense of mental well-being. This is for many reasons, including, but not limited to: an increase in one’s energy level throughout the day, better sleep at night, sharper memories, and they feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives.
How Exercise Does it
There are numerous reasons why regular exercise improves your mental health and psychological well-being.
Exercise decreases the amount of stress hormones in your body, like cortisol. In addition, it increases the number of endorphins. This means that you will have a natural mood boost. Over time, regular exercise provides resistance to certain stressors. In other words, exercise doesn’t just help you handle stress — it may help prevent stress in the first place.
Physical activity can be a distraction from negativity. Sometimes, you just need a break from the things that are bringing you down. Exercising can be a time for you to take your mind off of stressors, or even to redirect that energy into the activity.
Exercise promotes self-confidence. You may find that as exercise improves your physical health, you gain self-confidence. Improved self-confidence can improve your mental health as you feel better about yourself.
Regular exercise promotes sharp memories and thinking. Research suggests that physical activity can boost mental clarity and improve your working memory.
It can give you a social outlet of support. If you get a workout buddy, or join a group, the social side of exercise may give you a boost as you gain a support system of friends.
Exercise gets you better sleep. While several factors affect the quality of your sleep, the amount of physical activity you are getting in your routine is particularly impactful. Exercise, regardless of type, is shown to improve the efficiency and duration of sleep.
It improves your physical health, which can improve mental health. Illness causes stress. If you aren’t feeling good physically, that can take a toll on you mentally. Exercising increases your immunity to illness, like colds, flu, etc., which saves you stress in the short term. In the long term, regular physical activity helps you stay healthier, longer, by preventing diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Routine exercise has benefit to both physical and mental health. Incorporating it into your routine is advisable, especially if you are a member of the population that faces mental health struggles.
If you are interested in understanding how regular exercise can relieve the symptoms of some specific mental health conditions, check out this article by Healthline that outlines such.
Still not convinced? Check out this video by Dr. Frita, who explains seven mental health benefits of exercise.