You don’t have to be a fitness enthusiast to know that exercise is essential to your physical health. Exercise is key to achieving your fitness goals, from trimming the inches of your waistline to building muscle and toning your arms. But aiming for optimal physical health and a desirable physique aren’t the only reasons you should exercise.
Exercise is vital for your overall health — from the inside out. The effect fitness has on your mental health is extremely powerful. Exercise can improve your mental health in several ways, from boosting your mood to helping with anxiety and panic attacks.
With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, what better time than now to explore the many ways exercise affects mental health.
How Exercise Affects Your Brain
Before diving into the numerous benefits of exercise on your mental health, let’s take a look at the connection between exercise and your brain. When you exercise regularly, your brain goes through many changes. Reduced inflammation, neural growth, and new patterns of activity that promote those “feel-good” feelings are a few examples.
Exercise serves as a means of distraction for your brain as well. Often, negative-thought cycles can be broken when you engage in physical activity. When your brain is focused on negative thoughts, that’s when anxiety and stress creep up, and depression can start to set in.
Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health
While the list of the benefits of exercise on mental health is quite long, below are five significant ways that demonstrate fitness affects mental health. Learn how to utilize exercise to boost your mental health.
Feeling stressed out? One of the best things you can do for yourself is to get your body moving. Exercise decreases stress hormones, such as cortisol, while increasing your endorphins, widely known as your feel-good hormones. This makes for an easy mood booster.
Have More Energy
While it may seem contradictory, exercise can actually give you a boost in energy. You improve your body's natural energy level by raising your heart rate with regular exercise. Increase your heart rate, and increase your energy. Sure, you exert a great deal of energy during your workout — but that post-workout boost feels so good. You’re left feeling more energized throughout your entire day. Who would say no to that?
Exercise helps you tighten and tone your body, lower the number on that scale, and feel stronger. Not only does exercise give you more energy, it gives you more confidence as well. This means higher self-esteem, which does wonders for your overall quality of life. Whatever it is that makes you feel more confident in your skin, exercise will help you achieve it.
Plus, the dedication and commitment you make to including fitness in your life give you a sense of inner strength in addition to physical strength. Exercise is the key to loving the person staring back at you in the mirror — the person who feels confident from the outside in.
Get Better Sleep
We can probably all relate to not getting enough sleep, at least at one point or another in our lives. But getting more and better quality sleep should be prioritized since it affects your health in many ways. Exercise during the day and sleep better at night.
Because exercise helps you get better sleep, it also helps prevent you from feeling sleepy during your waking hours. Exercise increases the time you spend in the deep, restorative sleep cycles. And the more you exercise, the more your shut-eye time benefits.
Difficult times will come and go. You’re going to face challenges and hardships throughout your life. It’s an inevitable part of life. But the more resilient you are, the less likely life’s unfavorable events keep you down. Regular exercise is a good habit and can help you cope with rough times healthily. By building your resilience, exercise helps reduce the impact of difficulties that life throws your way.
No matter your age, race, gender, or where you are in life — you can always benefit from at least one, if not all, of the ways mentioned above, exercise, affects your mental health.
Exercise and Anxiety
If you’re looking for a better way to manage your anxiety, try implementing exercise into your routine — it’s a super effective method. Exercise can decrease your sensitivity to your body’s reaction to anxiety. While exercise works to build up muscular strength, it simultaneously works to break down stress and tension.
Have you ever noticed an increase in physical pain during times in your life when you’re under more stress than usual? What you once thought was a random backache or stomachache may have been caused by stress. Stress affects our body in various ways — from headaches to chronic diseases.
We often hold stress in our bodies in the form of pent-up tension. Exercise helps relax your muscles, which in turn relieves stress. Not only does exercise help reduce anxiety, but it can even reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks if you have a panic disorder.
By giving you something else to focus your attention on — the way your body feels when it’s in motion — exercise helps foster mindfulness. Exercise can reduce anxiety by interrupting the continuous worrisome thoughts running through your head.
Exercise and Depression
In addition to helping relieve symptoms of anxiety, exercise is beneficial when it comes to fighting depression. If you suffer from mild to moderate depression, exercise is an excellent tool for combatting symptoms.
Getting yourself out of bed might be an accomplishment in and of itself when dealing with depression. But getting yourself out of bed to work out adds a whole other element of challenge. But once you do it, boy, does it feel good.
Have you ever felt worse after working out? Have you ever regretted making the decision to exercise? In the moment, staying in bed may seem like the obvious choice. But I guarantee laying around and skipping your workout won’t make you feel better.
Exercise is known as one of the best ways to release endorphins. Endorphins are a group of hormones in your brain that serve as your body’s natural painkiller. They are more commonly referred to as the feel-good hormones. Or as we learned from Elle Woods in Legally Blonde — “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands. They just don't.”
Exercise and ADHD
The effect of fitness on mental health continues to surprise us in the best possible way. With regular exercise, you can improve concentration, motivation, and memory. Another benefit of exercise is that it can improve symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. Exercise immediately boosts your brain’s serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine levels. These all affect your ability to focus and your attention level.
Think of exercise as the natural form of medicine for ADHD. It works similarly to well-known ADHD medications, such as Adderall and Ritalin. While it may help relieve symptoms just as some medications would, exercise isn’t a replacement for medication. Talk to your doctor for any medical advice.
How Lagree Can Boost Your Mental Health
How does exercise affect mental health? You can benefit from exercise in numerous ways — and we’ve only explored a handful of them. Let’s review some of the key takeaways when it comes to the effect of fitness on your mental health.
Exercise helps to:
- Raise your heart rate = more energy
- Reduce inflammation and tension = less stress
- Release endorphins = boost in mood
- Sculpt your body = increased self-esteem
- Foster body awareness and mindfulness = decreased anxiety
- Build strength and endurance = sense of empowerment
Now, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of Lagree:
- Raises your heart rate
- Reduces inflammation and tension
- Releases endorphins
- Sculpts your body
- Fosters body awareness and mindfulness
- Builds strength and endurance
And the list goes on and on. You see the connection here, right? We wanted to make it easy for you to understand how Lagree boosts your mental health.
Lagree is a top choice when it comes to workouts that make your body feel good. And because there’s such a strong link between your mind and body — when your body feels better, so does your mind.
You don’t have to be suffering from a specific mental health condition to experience the positive ways in which exercise affects your mental health. Who couldn’t use a natural mood booster or improve sleep quality occasionally? Young or old, beginner or expert — everyone benefits when it comes to the positive way exercise affects your mental health. Sign up for your first Lagree class and boost your mental health!