How Does Exercise Improve Mental Health?
Exercise has tons of benefits for overall health. Doing daily physical activities has been proven to improve your physique and physical health. Best of all, it makes you feel and look young. Ask anyone who has been following a daily exercise routine; they can attest to feeling much more energetic after finishing their workout. Whether it be running or hitting the gym to lift weights, exercise is a proven source of great well-being.
But as much as exercise has a tremendous effect on overall health, its positive impact goes way beyond the physical aspect. Regular exercise is proven to improve mental stability by leaps and bounds. People who routinely perform physical activities have a better overall mood and feels the effects of stress than those who don't.
Exercise as an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety treatment
Studies show that exercise is an excellent anti-depressant. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that walking for an hour or running for about 15 minutes a day can reduce the risk of depression by 26%. Furthermore, a continuous regimen of the same can prevent depression patients from relapsing.
What exercise does to the brain is it releases endorphins, the same chemical released when eating chocolates, which makes you feel good. The endorphins interact with the receptors of our brain that trigger a positive feeling in the body. But most importantly, exercise makes you focus on the activity at hand, making your mind free from negative thoughts that feed depression.
Apart from it, focusing on the routine would help in relieving anxiety. Instead of just freeing your mind from negativity, try zoning in on every aspect of your exercise. Follow a rhythmic breathing pattern or feel every movement of your limbs and the sensation of the wind pushing away your sweat. In this way, you are not only freeing your mind, but instead, you are keeping it busy, preventing any other thoughts from consuming it.
Exercise is the best stress-reliever
Stress manifests in our bodies in different ways. It can start with simple body pain and tightness in your back and neck, leading to unbearable headaches. Sometimes, things like diarrhea, stomach ache, or even heartburns are symptoms of stress. These little things can add up and result in much greater stress.
You can eradicate these symptoms by doing physical activities. Exercising helps relieve tension and relaxes the muscles affected by stress. In this way, whatever pain or discomfort you are feeling, goes away, eliminating stress altogether.
Reduce ADHD symptoms through exercise
Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects an estimated 3% of adults worldwide. People with ADHD have trouble focusing and difficulty controlling impulsive behavior. Though the disorder can be easily controlled with medication, exercise is a great way to reduce these symptoms. Apart from releasing endorphins, physical activity boosts the brain's neurotransmitters. Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin affect focus and concentration. It is triggered by body movements giving you the same effect as proven ADHD medication such as Adderall and Ritalin.
Exercise makes you sharper
Apart from the feel-good feeling that endorphins give you, it also promotes focus and concentration to do the task at hand. Another benefit of exercise is it stimulates the growth of new cells in your brain, giving you sharper memory and prevents memory gap.
Reaping the mental health benefit of exercise does not mean one has to undergo strenuous physical activity. You can start with 15-minute sessions and work your way up as you progress. Taking breaks in between sessions is not a bad thing too. The most important thing is to start a routine that you can follow religiously, however little time you set aside. Find activities that would make you enjoy your exercise to start feeling better physically and mentally. Your overall health is what matters in the end.