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The mental health benefits of exercising regularly

At this time, it is well-documented that exercising regularly not only improves your physical health but your mental health as well. What are the benefits of exercise? Working out can improve your mood, help you sleep better, and give you more energy throughout the day. It can even offer relief from some symptoms of depression and anxiety. When we exercise, our stress hormones like cortisol decrease and “feel-good” hormones called endorphins increase, which gives you a natural lift. Keep reading to find out more about the ways working out can benefit your mental health.

Relaxed woman doing yoga by the ocean

Decrease stress and anxiety

Exercise can provide relief from everyday stress and anxiety disorders. First, working out lowers your body’s reactivity to stress. When you exercise more, stressors tend to impact you less, helping to alleviate existing anxiety and guard against future stress. Exercising habitually can also help lessen the symptoms of conditions that often occur in unison with anxiety disorders, like IBS.

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Physical activity may also reverse the damage caused by stress. Boosting your heart rate stimulates neurohormone production, which improves cognition, mood, and thinking that is clouded by stressful events. Working out also promotes new neuron growth in the brain, which can help ease symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Alleviate symptoms of depression

As a natural mood booster, exercise has unique benefits for people with depression. When you work out, your body produces endorphins (the “feel-good” chemical) which prompt feelings of joy and euphoria. Regular exercise also reduces inflammation, which has been shown to have a positive impact on those with depression. In many cases, exercise is just as effective a treatment as other common depression remedies. In fact, moderate exercise has proven to be such a successful treatment for depression that many doctors recommend their patients start a new exercise regimen before even prescribing medication.

Woman stretching and exercising

Boost your brainpower

You can improve your overall brainpower by working out on a regular basis. As mentioned, exercise helps the body create new brain cells. It can also aid in strengthening the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning. By just exercising, you can improve your memory, think more clearly, and absorb information more easily. Plus, being physically active can give your mental energy and creativity a boost. So, the next time you’re stuck on a project, try jogging, doing yoga, or going for a walk. You never know when inspiration may strike.

Woman running outside at sunset

Get a better night’s sleep

Do you have difficulty sleeping straight through the night? Regular exercise may be the key. Physical activity helps with sleep in two ways. It increases your body temperature, which can help relax your mind. This means it is easier to fall asleep quickly and sleep continuously throughout the night. Working out also aids the body in regulating its circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is essentially like your body’s internal alarm clock; it regulates when you feel sleepy or alert. For best results, make sure you’re not exercising too close to your bedtime.

Improve your self-confidence

Don’t underestimate the effect exercise can have on your self-esteem, too! Committing to working out frequently is an investment in your body and your mind. By sticking with this healthy habit, the sense of achievement you feel can transform how you think about yourself, regardless of the outward changes. However, the physical changes your body undergoes can also increase your self-esteem. Being more physically active can assist you in losing weight, toning your muscles, improving your endurance, and giving you a healthy glow. These physical impacts can make you feel more confident in your body and yourself.

When it comes to working out, you may find that the psychological benefits outweigh the physical ones. Sure, you can lose weight and get stronger, but that is nothing compared to the mental benefits of exercise. Working out can help you fight the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Plus, it can improve your mood, boost your brainpower, help you sleep better, and give you more self-confidence. Remember, the hardest part is getting started. Take it one step at a time, and before you know it, you will be enjoying all the wonderful things physical activity can provide for you.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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