You probably already know exercise is good for your physical health. Working out offers a variety of benefits, ranging from losing weight to helping you sleep. Even if you’ve avoided exercise for a while or are recovering from a recent injury, seeing a physical therapist or exercising with a friend elsewhere can help you safely get back in shape.
When you get back into a workout routine, the physical benefits will be obvious. What you might not realise, however, is just how much exercise can also boost your mental health. The following examples illustrate merely a few of the ways being active supports your mind just as much as your body.
- Exercise boosts your mood
Believe it or not, there’s actually a completely genuine scientific reason behind why some people appear to be happier and more energized after a good workout. Quite simply, working out triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Endorphins also have the effect of lifting your mood.
- Exercise reduces stress
Exercise doesn’t just boost the amount of “happy chemicals” running through your brain and body. It’s also been shown to reduce your levels of stress hormones. That’s why studies have confirmed working out is often an effective treatment for conditions such as anxiety.
- It allows you to get outside
A recent study has shown that spending 90 minutes walking in nature as opposed to an urban environment results in lower activity in areas of the brain typically linked to depression. Similar studies have also revealed the mental health benefits of spending time in nature.
Luckily, working out gives you many opportunities to get outside! Whether it’s a run through the woods or a hike up a mountain, if you want to get fit and boost your mental health, choosing an outdoor activity is a smart idea.
- Exercise improves cognition
Speaking of smart ideas, research also indicates exercise promotes stronger memory and cognition. Working out regularly actually grows important parts of the brain as if they were muscles. That’s a major reason experts recommend embracing fitness throughout life. As you get older, working out will guard against the cognitive decline typically associated with aging.
- It boosts creativity
Being creative is part of being mentally healthy. The ability to come up with new ideas helps you solve major problems. Even if your job doesn’t require much creative thinking, your day-to-day life does, perhaps to a greater degree than you realise.
Luckily, exercise has also been shown to boost convergent thinking. That’s just a technical way of saying people who exercise regularly become more creative as a result.
- It helps to treat addictions
Although addiction recovery typically requires coordinating with a professional, exercise can absolutely be a vital part of any treatment plan. That’s because research has shown working out results in changes to the dopamine pathways in the brain. Since dopamine plays a key role in addictions, this may explain why earlier research has frequently indicated that exercise helps people recover from addiction successfully.
Again, working out is great for your body, but you shouldn’t overlook the ways it can also support your mind. The sooner you begin a fitness plan, the sooner you can take advantage of these benefits!
Alexandra Warner is the content manager at BetterPT in the United States. For more information about BetterPT and the benefits of physical exercise, please visit betterpt.com.
Do you struggle to fit exercise into your life? Would you like improve your mental health? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.