Physical and mental health have very strong connections. Not only does a little exercise help you maintain weight, muscle tone, and blood pressure, it also aids as a cognitive booster. Whether you walk, lift, or train for triathlons, studies show that making time for exercise will pay huge in brain dividends.
Here are five benefits of exercise on your mental health:
1. Endorphin Rush
Exercise releases oodles of endorphins. Endorphins block pain, but they’re also responsible for our feelings of pleasure. They can also make you feel optimistic about life and your place in it and serve to alleviate symptoms of depression. So, getting on the treadmill or walking around the block will do more for your health than simply burn calories.
2. Stress Shedder
Stress is a common theme of 21st century modern life. Working up a sweat will increase your brain’s stock of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. So the next time you are feeling the stress level start to creep up, consider walking your dog.
3. Keeps Addiction at Bay
Did you know you can distract an addiction with exercise? The brain releases dopamine, the “reward chemical,” in response to any form of pleasure, whether that is exercise, sex, drugs, alcohol, or food. Dopamine is a major factor in addiction and short bursts of exercise can distract drug or alcohol addicts, making them de-prioritize cravings, at least in the short term. Alcoholics on the mend will find that regular exercise will help their circadian rhythm, which alcohol tends to distort, and allow them to sleep without the aid of a cold one.
Exercising super charges your brain and primes it for creativity. Many people often site that there is a two-hour window where they feel the most creative and productive. Exercise is a time and a place where many can escape their crowded busy days and focus internally, so it’s no surprise that with a quiet mind, one can get reflective and do some serious problem solving.
5. Anxiety Evaporator
Suffer from anxiety? A 20-minute walk at a brisk pace will eat up all your anxiety, and doing interval training, where you increase your input and then dial it back, will decrease anxiety sensitivity. Again, this goes back to the happy chemicals released when you physically exert yourself.
What are some exercises you take part in to help yourself feel better mentally and physically?