The Role Of Exercise In Mental Health

The role of exercise in mental health is becoming increasingly important. It’s not something many people think about when they’re trying to get healthy, but exercise has an important role to play in maintaining a positive mental health.

Boosts Self-Esteem

Exercise helps reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, alleviate social withdrawal, and boost your self-esteem. The positive feelings that accompany the release of endorphins, or the “feel-good” hormones, also make you less critical of yourself and more energized to face life’s challenges. The endorphins released during exercise can also help your memory and thinking skills as they can stimulate the growth of new brain cells, preventing age-related decline in mental function. This helps prevent the onset of dementia, which can occur as we get older. It can also lead to a feeling of achievement, a sense that you are working towards a goal. Whether it’s hitting personal bests, perfecting your form, or mastering an activity like dance or kickboxing, the feelings of accomplishment are consistent and can really make you feel good about yourself.

Reduces Stress

You might not realize it, but regular exercise is a powerful tool to improve your mental health. It relieves stress, boosts your mood, and helps you sleep better. It can also help you with common mental health issues like depression, anxiety, ADHD, and much more. Research has shown that regular exercise can reduce your negative emotions by buffering “anxiety sensitivity,” or how reactive you are to certain physical signs of stress and anxiety (think perspiration, a racing heart, etc.).

Improves Memory And Thinking Skills

It has been established that exercising improves the size of the brain’s regions involved in memory and thinking. This is done both directly and indirectly by improving mood and sleep, reducing stress and anxiety, and encouraging the production of growth factors that support new blood vessels in the brain and enhance the survival and abundance of developing brain cells. Many forms of exercise, including brisk walking and yoga, boost the brain’s capacity for learning and memory. They may also help to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, a serious condition that results from aging combined with oxidative stress and inflammation.

Makes You Happier

It only takes a few minutes of exercise to boost your mood. During your workout, the brain releases mood-enhancing chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. This effect lasts for up to twelve hours, so even when you’re pressed for time, a few minutes of exercise can make a big difference. Research shows that a regular workout can have the same mental health benefits as medication, therapy or meditation. This is mainly due to the long-lasting effects of exercise, which improve your brain’s ability to produce feel-good hormones.