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Why Exercise Is Great for Your Mental Health

Whether we like to admit it or not, we all know that regular exercise is good for our health. Still, sometimes getting up and moving is easier said than done. Exercise includes a range of physical activities that can be performed regardless of age, sex, physical or mental ability. Regular physical activity can prevent and treat a list of health concerns, including Cardiovascular and Respiratory problems.

But I bet you didn't know that regular exercise can assist in achieving sound mental health. Whether you're experiencing a case of Mondayitis or something more severe, exercise can improve your mood and put you in a healthy headspace. Remember before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any concerns about your physical and mental health, make sure to consult your doctor.  


The Science 

Have you ever gone for a run and felt great afterward? If so, you have experienced what is referred to as runners high’. Runners high occurs when the brain registers that you have physically exerted yourself. As a response, your brain releases multiple feel-good chemicals, including Serotonin, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Adrenaline, and Endorphins, which all play a role in regulating moods. These particular chemical responses from the brain are not just reserved for runs but any activity that leaves you slightly puffed out.     


The Mental Benefits of Exercising    

The health benefits of exercising are Karmic; the more you do it, the better you'll feel, and the more you'll want to exercise again. When you exercise, your body becomes an outlet for any tension built up physically and mentally. Releasing the tension leaves you feeling more relaxed, calmer, and overall, in a better mood. This translates to an increase in appetite and improved sleep, giving you more energy and motivation to exercise the next day.  
It's not always the physicality of exercise that directly translates to a better mood. The task of setting workout goals and reaching those goals leaves you with a sense of accomplishment and achievement. Likewise, the road to reaching your goal teaches you discipline and gives you the coping abilities for those tough days. Exercise gets you out and about. Catching up with a friend or a workout partner is always great for your mental health. Good physical health relieves you of the stresses that come with having bad health. Not to mention exercise raises your self-esteem when your body looks as good as you imagined.     


Types of Exercises to Improve Mood  

While any exercise will be rewarding and beneficial to your overall health, regular exercise is always better than exercise performed sporadically. Similarly, some types of exercises are better than others. First and foremost, you always want to choose something you enjoy so you can stick with it. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you should do 150 minutes worth of moderate- intensity aerobic activity mixed with two sessions of muscle-strengthening activities within a week.  


Getting Started   

Like anyone new to working out or exercising, the most challenging part can be making the first move. This can be even more difficult when you are already struggling with mental health, and getting out of bed is a chore in itself. Exercise can turn this around or improve your motivation and play a part in improving your overall mental health. Motivation doesn't just appear out of the blue but emerges after taking action. To be motivated to exercise, you need first to find out why you enjoy it first; you can't be encouraged to do something that you have no idea about.   
Ways to get yourself motivated or committed to exercise include, first, choosing something you enjoy doing and giving yourself a reason to do it. This reason needs to hold value and must be important to you; this, at times, might mean making a commitment to the ones you love. Second, start small; research indicates that moderate-intensity exercise is sufficient; this is the equivalent of working out while still being able to talk simultaneously. Depending on your lifestyle, it is recommended that you do 30-minute sessions a day or 10-15-minute sessions multiple times throughout the day. Lastly, and most importantly, be kind to yourself. When you are having a bad day, remind yourself you are only human and start your days fresh and do what you can. Remember, any exercise is better than none at all.  

Make your move  

We often try to start a workout routine to attain goals that are concerned with our physical appearance; in the short-term, there is very little to no sense of gratification, this can often make us feel less motivated, and at times we give up altogether. Next time you work out, I suggest focusing on how you feel mentally rather than what you look like physically. If you take this on board, the benefits will be almost instantaneous, giving you a greater chance of sticking to your newly founded workout routine. Remember before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any concerns about your physical and mental health, make sure to consult your doctor.  

  • Apr 21, 2021
  • Category: Blog
  • Comments: 0
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