It’s common knowledge that exercise is beneficial to your physical health, but many people don’t consider the positive impact of regular physical activity on your mental health. Getting on a regular exercise schedule can benefit everyone’s psychological well-being, but can be especially effective at managing symptoms of certain mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Research shows that exercise can relieve stress, improve sleep, enhance memory, and boost mood. While your desire to look better may have previously been your sole motivation for heading to the gym, this isn’t as sustainable when you’re focused solely on what you see in the mirror. If you can focus on the ways exercise helps you feel amazing, you will keep coming back again and again to our small group training classes.
The Mental Benefits of Exercise
If you are feeling too stressed out to function, instead of grabbing a cocktail after work, head to the gym. Working out helps our bodies manage both mental and physical stress. In addition, physical activity releases norepinephrine, which is a neurotransmitter that helps with stress response. It doesn’t take much time to feel the stress-reducing benefits of exercise, so even if you have limited time, squeeze in a quick workout.
If you are one of the many people who struggle with sleep problems, your solution may be exercise. The key here is timing. While exercise naturally raises our core body temperature, about five to six hours afterward, it falls, which is a signal to our brain to go to sleep. Timing your workout so that it occurs within this window ensures that you can finally catch those z’s you’ve been missing out on.
Have you ever walked into a room and promptly forgot what you went in there for? It might be time to take steps to improve your memory. Exercising regularly has been shown to increase brain cell production in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning. One study showed that running sprints helped adults retain new vocabulary words, demonstrating that exercising may help you when you’re trying to boost your memory.
It might be tough to push yourself when you’re feeling low, but if you can motivate yourself enough to workout, you will feel a lot better. Exercise releases endorphins, which create a feeling of euphoria. These feel-good chemicals are extremely effective at helping clinically depressed people manage their symptoms; in fact, in some cases, exercise can be just as effective as antidepressants. Even working out for thirty minutes, four times a week can make a difference.
People with mental health problems often struggle with low self-esteem. Regular exercise can help combat feelings of poor self-worth. Working out regularly is an investment in your well-being, and simply doing something for yourself to make yourself healthier is great way to feel better about yourself. You may feel better about your physical appearance, but more importantly is the feeling of accomplishment from adding exercise into your routine.
In our next blog, we will go over some tips for getting into exercise when you’re depressed or anxious. In the meantime, if you’d like to try one of our small group training classes in Medford, contact us today!