We all know exercise is good for the physical body, but are you aware of the mental benefits it provides? Exercise can improve your mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and more. Exercise has also been found to alleviate problems such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal. Chemicals in your brain that are responsible for improving overall mood and happiness like dopamine and serotonin can be triggered solely by exercising. So, when you hear people say “the strongest muscle in the human body is the brain” there is much truth in that and a lot to be said for it.
It’s evident that consistent exercise doesn’t only improve your physical health or enhance your physique. Additionally, it builds willpower and provides individuals with an enormous sense of well-being. People who exercise regularly are said to often feel more energetic throughout the day and sleep better at night. Active people have sharper memories and tend to think more highly of themselves compared to their non-active counterparts. In addition to these benefits, exercise is also scientifically known for improving a plethora of other health benefits including the following:
· Sex drive
· Stress relief
· Overall mood
· Energy levels
· Tiredness/ fatigue
· Mental alertness
So why does consistent exercise improve your mental and physiological health? Chemicals. That’s right, aerobic exercises like running, jogging, cycling, and swimming are known to help boost your mood. The increase in a higher mood is attributed to an increase in blood circulation to the brain. This rush that active people feel is simply the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) part of the central nervous system being activated. This activation automatically releases cortisol and decreases negative moods like stress and depression. Subsequently, the release of cortisol and other chemicals put individuals in a “feeling good” state known as flow. This hyper positive state is caused by a negative feedback mechanism cutting off stress in the hippocampus.
For this reason, it is actually beneficial to exercise when you are feeling anxious, stressed out, or even depressed. The most difficult aspect of this idea is getting motivated and getting back into the mindset of exercising again. However, although challenging, the benefits are exceedingly rewarding so start even if you start slow. Easing back into working out is not a bad idea as long as you are staying active. Start by talking short walks throughout the day, complete some chores around the house, or maybe dance a little. Eventually, you’ll begin to feel better and be more energized leading you into jogging, cycling, or even lifting weights as you stay consistent. Just remember to keep those chemicals flowing!