Mental Benefits of Exercise February 23, 2015
Mental Benefits of Exercise February 23, 2015

From improving your heart health to toning your tush, we all know about the numerous physical and aesthetic rewards of working out. Yet many of us don’t realize that exercise can play a very important role in mental health also.

In recent years, mounting research has showed the effects of exercise on cognition, memory, mood, self-confidence, stress levels and overall happiness. Here are the top five mental health benefits of exercise.

Takes Your Stress Away Prolonged or intense stress can have a very damaging effect on both the body and mind. It has been linked as one of the causes for a number of both physical and mental health issues. One of the best, easiest and cheapest ways to relieve stress is with a good workout. Exercise increases the release of a number of chemicals including norepinephrine, which can help to regulate how we deal with stress. Exercise can also help relieve anxiety and has been a big part of many therapy protocols for people suffering with anxiety disorders and depression.

Gets You High Exercising stimulates endorphin production in many different areas of the body, such as the brain and spinal cord. When released into the bloodstream, these endorphins can have a few different positive effects on the body. They can act as a painkiller providing a soothing, calming effect as well as a sense of happiness or even euphoria. Exercise also stimulates the release of the feel-good chemicals; adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine.

Boosts Your Brain Working out is not only for building beauty or brawn, it’s also great for building brains. Exercise has been shown to help improve brain function and performance as well as stimulate the development of new brain cells. By our mid-20’s, key parts of our brains that control memory and learning start to deteriorate. Exercise has been shown to slow and even reverse this deterioration. Just like with muscles, exercise can help strengthen neurons in the brain, making them more flexible and nimble. It also helps sharpen memory, improve problem-solving skills and learning.

Makes You Feel Like a Million Bucks You don’t need to drastically change your body to start to feel better about yourself when working out. Exercise can improve mood, boost self-esteem and increase happiness with even the slightest gains. Studies have shown that people who exercise overall have a more positive self-image and higher perception of self-worth and attractiveness that those who don’t.

Pumps Up Your Productivity Research has shown that workers who exercise regularly outperform co-workers who don’t. Exercise makes you both more productive and creative. Not only does it increase energy levels, it improves concentration and cognition. Morning and midday have shown to be the best times for office workers to get their workout fix. Put it down to good old-fashioned competitiveness, but another added productivity benefit of exercise is that it can inspire others to not only improve their health and fitness, but also their work performance.

Sources:
NCBI
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Medical NewsDay

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