Most people exercise and go to the gym to get physical health benefits. This usually means either slimming down or bulking up. However, an increasing body of evidence is showing amazing mental health benefits of exercise. When you exercise and go to the gym, you are improving your holistic wellness.
Exercising should become as important to you as eating, drinking, sleeping, and breathing. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. They cannot be separated because your body is an entire ecosystem. Your mental health will improve dramatically, as you’re about to see below.
Here are some of the major mental health benefits of exercise you can start enjoying when you work out:
1. Less Stress
Stress is the mother of many diseases. It’s something we all deal with at some point. The reduction of stress is one of the most significant and common mental health benefits you will notice once you start exercising. When you exercise, you are increasing the concentration of norepinephrine, which is a brain chemical that moderates your brain’s response to stress.
2. Increase the Production of Endorphins
Your brain produces happy chemicals called endorphins when you exercise. Studies have found that exercise will even ward off clinical depression! This is why doctors actually suggest that those who suffer from mental health issues like depression or anxiety get plenty of exercise. In fact, regularly going to the gym can be as effective as antidepressant drugs to treat depression. Even just half an hour a few times a week will increase your production of endorphins.
3. More Self-Confidence
Exercising will increase your self-confidence. You are going to feel much better about yourself, especially after you start seeing and feeling positive physical results. Your self-image will improve as well, no matter who you are.
4. Prevent Cognitive Decline
We all get older. The older we get, the more susceptive we are to cognitive decline. We may suffer from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, where brain cells get killed. Regular exercise can help prevent cognitive decline, especially if you under 45 years old. Neural degeneration in the hippocampus can be thwarted, so that you don’t start having brain fog too soon.
5. Less Anxiety
The endorphins released due to exercise can help calm you down. Whatever you may be dealing with in life becomes less big of a deal. You can be aware of things and not let them throw you off-balance. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is especially helpful in reducing anxiety.
6. Develop Greater Brainpower
There have been a number of studies that found taking part in cardiovascular exercise can actually lead to the creation of new brain cells! This process is called neurogenesis. It will increase your overall brain performance. The tougher your workout, the more benefit you will get in this area. A protein in your brain called BDNF can increase when you do intense workouts.
7. Better Memory
When you exercise regularly, you are supporting better memory and the ability to learn new things. Also, you will be producing more cells in your hippocampus, which is where memory and learning occur. A child’s brain development has been directly correlated with how physically active they are. However, children aren’t the only ones who will benefit from exercise. For example, adults who run sprints have been found to have increased vocabulary retention.
8. Ward Off Addiction
Your brain will release the reward chemical called dopamine. This occurs whenever you partake in some form of pleasure, including exercise. However, some people become addicted to it and dependent on it, like a drug. Exercising can help someone already addicted to get onto the path of recovery. Even short workout sessions can reduce drug cravings. This is thanks to the endorphin rush they get. Some drugs, including alcohol, disrupt sleep patterns, which leads to its own set of problems. Exercise can help the body readjust to a better sleep schedule.
9. Feel More Relaxed
Working out will lead to you feeling more relaxed, which will help you relax more than a sleeping pill could, and without the unwanted side effects. People who have insomnia have found that exercising regularly helps them fall asleep early enough, leading to them feeling well-rested the next morning.
10. More Productive
If you are finding it difficult to feel inspired or be productive, then doing something like some cardio, or even weightlifting, can help you feel more productive and have more energy. If you’re just sitting around all day, you are bound to feel sluggish. Moving your body will get things into motion. It will be easier to move forward with tasks. Even if you feel you are too busy to exercise, you can probably find even just 15 minutes to take a walk or do some HIIT to reap the benefits.
11. Become More Creative
Working out boosts your creativity for a few hours after you have exercised. That means that if there was something creative that you have been wanting to do, but felt a creative block, you can try working out! You may find that the block has disappeared. By exercising, you will be refreshing both your body and brain simultaneously.
12. Become More Inspiring
Studies have found that people feel more inspired and all-around optimistic about their abilities after exercising. This healthy dose of inspiration can even lead to higher tolerance for pain! Exercising will lead to positive effects. They will stay with you even after you leave the gym. The motivation you will receive from working out is one of the most lucrative benefits you can enjoy.
These are some of the primary mental health benefits of exercise. As you can see, there is far more to gain from exercising and working out than getting your body in shape. You can get your mind in shape as well! There is more evidence piling up every year that demonstrates this to be true. So, go on and start moving your body, either at home or at the gym, to reap the rewards. Your body (and mind) will thank you. If you are new to the gym and not sure where to start, why not give us a visit at our Delta Fitness Canary Wharf studio and see how we can help or just book a free consultation to get started.