Physical activity: the mental benefits
10th October 2016
We all know that exercise can help us achieve physical results – we can lose weight, look slimmer, tone up, or gain muscle – but did you know that exercise can offer us so many mental benefits too? Here’s how you can look after your mind using your body…
Feel good feeling
People who exercise often and maintain a healthy lifestyle do so not just for the physical benefits – but also for the feel good feeling they get after working out. You’ll feel more positive and more relaxed – which can then mean you are able to sleep better at night as a result, and feel more energetic throughout the day.
Studies have shown that exercise is effective in treating mild to moderate depression – this is because exercise promotes many changes in the brain; such as neural growth, reduced inflammation and new activity patterns that promote calm feelings. It also releases endorphins (lovely little chemicals in our brains that make us feel great!) And aside from all that, it also acts as a distraction from the negative cycle you can find yourself in – concentrating on your workout instead of all of the other things weighing you down.
Exercise is an effective anti-anxiety treatment – it relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and through those brilliant little endorphins, your feeling of well-being also improves too. Simply just focusing on your workout – what you’re doing, the music you’re listening to – can be so effective in melting away any built up anxiety.
Stressed? No more!
Your body can often take the brunt of any stress you are going through – without realising, your muscles can be tense (especially in your face, neck, and shoulders) which can cause you to have back or neck pain, and even painful headaches. Often these symptoms only make you more stressed, and so a vicious cycle ensues. Exercise can break this cycle; physical activity helps to relax muscles and relieve tension in the body. Hitting the sauna or steam room after a workout will help alleviate even more built up tension, leaving you feeling relaxed and much calmer.
There are even more mental and emotional benefits of working out – exercise can provide you with a sharper memory and better ability to think; the same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp. It also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related memory decline. Exercising regularly will also boost your self-esteem, especially as you begin to feel better about your appearance and begin hitting small goals. Exercise is also proven to allow you a better nights sleep, as it helps regulate your sleeping pattern. Not only that, but by increasing your heart rate just a few times a week, you will provide yourself with more energy, more get-up-and-go to do the things you want.
So what are you waiting for? There really is no reason not to head on down to the gym – you’re just one workout away from feeling great! Start looking after your mind by using your body!