How Does Exercise Benefit My Mental Health?
1. Reduce Stress: Rough day at the office? Take a walk or head to the gym for a quick workout. One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Working up a sweat can help manage mental stress. Exercise increases your level of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.
2. Boost Happy Chemicals: Slogging through a few miles on the treadmill can be tough, but it’s worth the effort! Exercise releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even help alleviate symptoms of depression among the clinically depressed.
3. Enjoy The Great Outdoors: Find an outdoor workout that fits your style, whether it’s rock-climbing, hiking, renting a canoe or just taking a jog in the park. All the Vitamin D acquired from soaking up the sun can lessen the likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms.
4. Prevent Cognitive Decline: It’s unpleasant, but it’s true… as we get older, our brains get a little… hazy. As aging and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s kill off brain cells, the brain actually shrinks, losing many important brain functions in the process. While exercise and a healthy diet can’t “cure” Alzheimer’s, they can slow cognitive decline by preventing the degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.
5. Alleviate Anxiety: Quick Q&A: Which is better at relieving anxiety… a warm bubble bath or a 20-minute jog? You might be surprised at the answer. The warm and fuzzy chemicals that are released during and after exercise can help people with anxiety disorders calm down.
6. Boost Brainpower: Cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells and improve brain performance. Studies suggest that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking and learning.
7. Sharpen Memory: Regular physical activity boosts memory and the ability to learn new things by increasing the production of hippocampus cells responsible for memory and learning.