Exercise benefits for mental health
We all know exercise is imperative for our physical fitness and wellbeing, but it has a huge impact on our mental wellbeing too.
Mental wellbeing concerns how you feel about yourself, others, and the world around you. If the thought of going to a gym brings you out in a cold sweat, fear not. There are plenty of other activities that count - bike riding, walking, yoga, skating, swimming, running around the park with your kids… and if you’re outside and getting the benefit of lots of fresh air and Vitamin D from the sunshine (if we ever get any here in the UK) then all the better! So how can something as simple as going for a walk or taking a yoga class have such a positive impact on your mental health?
Here I’ve listed 10 very real benefits that you can start experiencing right away!
1 Reduction in stress - bad day at the office? Kids driving you potty? A good workout can help to reduce stress and alleviate mental tension. A run on the treadmill or a brisk walk in the park can help to calm a racing mind, clear away any pesky negative thoughts and help you think more clearly. Overall it will boost your mood and make you feel great. Blast out your favourite feel good tunes for an even greater serotonin hit!
2 Aids relaxation - exercise reduces stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, and calming and clearing your mind will work wonders for relaxation. Exerting yourself will also tire you out physically, encouraging your body to succumb to rest.
3 Helps with mild depression - exercise releases endorphins (happy chemicals) and has been known to help greatly with mild depression, anxiety, postnatal depression, anger and frustration. Exercise helped me a great deal after the birth of my 3rd son, when I was feeling low, anxious and lacking in energy and enthusiasm. The gym was also my saviour when my marriage temporarily broke down - hitting the gym gave me focus, energy, confidence and strength, and made me feel like I could take on the world!
4 Better sleep - exercise can help combat sleep problems, and a good workout, walk or swim can help you drift off quicker, and improve the overall quality of your sleep. Just don’t exercise right before bed or you’ll be too wired to relax.
5 Healthier lifestyle - exercise encourages a healthy appetite and promotes better eating habits. if you’ve been to the gym and are feeling great about yourself, you’re less likely to snack on rubbish and fuel yourself on good stuff instead. It’s a virtuous circle peeps!
6 Boosts self esteem and self confidence - committing to exercise can help you to not only look great, but feel great on the inside too. It gives you focus and a sense of achievement and can work wonders with helping you to gain confidence in your abilities.
7 Boosts brain function, increases brain power and sharpens memory - Neurogenesis anyone? This is essentially the growth and/or development of new brain cells, and some people believe exercise can actually create new brain cells! Exercise has also be linked with improved decision making, a greater attention span, quicker thinking, and a better capacity to learn and retain new information. Now give me some of that!
8 Prevents cognitive decline - now I’m no neurosurgeon (although I have watched series 1-12 of Grey’s Anatomy and I did pay particular attention to Dr. Derek Shepherd - swoon factor) but I have heard that exercise can help the brain fight cognitive degeneration. Helpful for anyone with Alzheimer's in the family (ME! Although exercise won’t prevent this) and mummy mush brain (ME, again!)
9 Boosts overall productivity - exercise makes you more productive, improves motivation, gives you more energy, and helps you approach work/projects with greater zest. It greatly improves concentration and mental strength, making you feel like you can conquer anything. Woop! Watch out world!
10 Boosts libido - the effects can be both physiological (the release of endorphins) and psychological (enhanced self image and self confidence). I’m wondering if this applies more to men (do they even neeed any extra encouragement?). If you still favour a cuppa and a chocolate digestive over the old ‘you know what’, don’t worry, I think points 1-9 are reason enough to get active.
Now lace up your trainers and commit to looking after your mental health!
ABOUT FRAN GRANT
Wife to a very lucky husband. Mum to 3 beautiful little boys. Gym, yoga and self care enthusiast. Lover of food, coffee, wine and gin. Self confessed bookworm and book hoarder. Advocate for keeping the magic of reading alive for today’s children. And last but not least - Writer (currently trying my hand at kids fiction and rhyming stories). Thanks for visiting my site - expect to see posts mainly related to reading and writing, with occasional musings about family, parenting and life in general. Oh, and plenty of book reviews! Hope you enjoy! Much love, Fran x