Why Fitness is Actually Good for Your Mental Health

Most of us already knew the many physical benefits of exercise: weight loss, low blood

pressure, and of course, increased energy. But what about the mental benefits? From easing

symptoms of depression and anxiety to keeping your memory sharp, there’s no shortage of

mental benefits of exercise.

Below is a run-down of some of the benefits of exercise to your mental health:

1. Decreased Stress

Stress is an inevitable part of life. It’s impossible to eliminate, but you can learn to

manage stress, and most people usually do. Exercise is also considered vital for

maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective

at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall

cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy

or ability to concentrate. It’s a meditation in motion.

Studies show that regular participation in physical exercise has been shown to decrease

overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-

esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.

2. Increase self-esteem and confidence

Do you have a positive outlook of yourself and your capabilities? Some research has very

clearly shown a strong link between positive self-esteem and mental and physical health. Self-

esteem is defined as our evaluation of our self-concept and feelings associated with that

evaluation. Self-concept is our perception of our attributes and qualities.

There are many mechanisms by which exercise increases our evaluations of ourselves. In the

short-term, exercise enhances our mood and puts our mind in a more positive state. Second,

exercise makes us feel good about our physical self, mainly our physique! Last, exercise

provides us with a sense of accomplishment that boosts our confidence. For each goal you hit,

don’t forget to reward yourself! Decide in advance how you will celebrate your accomplishment,

and then go for it! Take time to reflect on the hard work that you put into achieving your

mission.

3. Better Sleep

Based on studies, there has been solid evidence that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep

more quickly and improves sleep quality. However, moderate workouts increase the amount of

slow wave sleep you get. Slow wave sleep refers to deep sleep, where the brain and body have

a chance to rejuvenate. The effect of exercise on some people is like taking a shower that

wakes you up in the morning. Elevation in core body temperature signals the body clock that it’s

time to be awake. After about 30 to 90 minutes, the core body temperature starts to fall. The

decline helps to facilitate sleepiness.

People who engage in at least half an hour of moderate exercise may see a difference in sleep

quality that same night. It’s generally not going to take months or years to see a benefit.

4. Happy Hormones

It’s an instant mood booster. It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity may help bump up

the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins

Often, people who exercise regularly do it simply because it makes them feel good. Exercise

can boost your mood, concentration and alertness. It can even help give you a positive outlook

on life.

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