The Effects of Exercise on Mental Health
In today’s time, you probably have heard over and over the benefits of exercise on our physical health, including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, weight loss, and better sleep. While all these things are vital to one’s well-being, it’s often difficult to maintain an exercise routine when you’re not in a good place, mentally. It can be hard to hit the gym or go for a run when you are struggling mentally. However, experts are recognizing the relationship between physical activity and mental health. There is a lot of literature that identifies the effects of exercise on the mental state of the human brain. There has been found more positive effects than negative on mood states such as anxiety, stress, and depression. These effects happen through physiological and biochemical mechanisms, for instance, endorphins and neurotransmitters.
It is a fact that exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s feel-good hormones, or the brain’s natural pain relievers. These hormones aid in reducing stress and pain sensations, encouraging feelings of positivity. Exercise also promotes growth and nerve cell connections in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that regulates mood. As a result, depressive moods are lessened due to the improved brain functioning and decreased sizing of the hippocampus.
Physical movement boosts the levels
of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Consequently, the boosting of these levels impacts focus, attention, and stress levels. Furthermore, with the increased levels of such hormones, this in turn improves concentration and helps manage the symptoms of ADHD.
An additional benefit of exercise on mental health is the impact it has on sleep. Exercise can help you get better sleep and better sleep is directly linked to improved brain functioning during waking hours. As long as the moderate or high-intensity workout is done in the morning or no more than 3 hours before bedtime, the spiked levels should not interfere with the ability to fall asleep. It’s been found that even 30 minutes of moderate cardio can make a difference in one’s sleepy quality each night.
Aside from its biological benefits, exercise plays another advantageous function when it is used a as a distraction from whatever stressors or issues that one may be experiencing. It can help people focus more on the present moment and not dwell on negative thoughts or feelings. This is a key component of mindfulness, which has been shown to effectively help people cope with depression and anxiety. Exercise can make shifting focus easier because you have to pay attention to what your body is doing, thereby distracting your mind.
In conclusion, it shows that even a little bit of exercise can go a long way. Along with good nutritional habits, both working together can improve mental health. Exercise has shown to have incredible benefits mentally and can make a difference in overall health. So next time you feel in the dumps, consider a physical activity that gets the heart racing and the mind elsewhere.