6 Unexpected Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Who said that working out is only good for your body? You better believe it’s not the case when scientists say that working out is good for your mind as it is for your body. They’ve found a link between improved physical fitness and good mental health, proving that “Look good and feel good” is more than just a catchphrase.

Boost endorphins

While you’re working up a sweat on the treadmill, you’re also releasing endorphins, which create the feelings of happiness and euphoria, which is good for your mental health! People suffering from depression or anxiety are prescribed by their doctors to hit the gym frequently because studies have shown that exercise can alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed. As little as 30 minutes spent exercising a few times a week can get rid of the blues. In another research, it was found out that exercise is just as effective as antidepressant pills in treating depression.

Improve self-esteem

Knowing that you’re sticking to your gym schedule is enough to feel better about yourself. You’re working towards your goal – staying fit, losing weight, bulking up – can boost self-confidence and self-image. This extends beyond the gym and into your mental health. When you’re feeling good about yourself, you can be a positive ray of sunshine for people you interact with. 

Helps control addiction

Along with dopamine, the brain also releases dopamine, the “pleasure” chemical that’s released due to pleasure from high addictive stuff like drugs, exercise, sex, alcohol or food. Because dopamine is also released during exercise, studies have tried to find a way for addicts to derive pleasure from this instead of alcohol or drugs. And it works, at least in the short team. Short bursts of exercise distracted drug and alcohol addicts and curbed their cravings. And because alcohol disrupts the sleeping patterns,  alcoholics resort to drinking to sleep. Exercise reboots the body clock so it instinctively knows when it’s time to hit the hay. 

Slows down cognitive degradation

As we get older, diseases like Alzheimer’s kills off brain cells that perform vital brain functions. Such is the way of life. However, frequent exercise and a healthy diet can slow down the decline that happens after your 45th birthday. Working out between 25-45 is crucial because it boosts the hormones that prevent the degradation of hippocampus, the brain’s center for memory and function.

Stress relief

After a bad day at the office, the best way to let off some steam is by hitting the gym. Getting yourself to work up a sweat increases the presence of norepinephrine, the brain’s natural response to stress. Plus, unlike eating out or a round of drinks, working out won’t cost you much or give you a hangover the next day. How’s that for benefiting your mental health? 

Be more productive

How has a walk around the block solved the question that stumped you at work? Exercise gets your brain juices flowing because of a simple reason: when you’re working out you’re pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout your body, especially to your brain. And that’s not just it. 

According to research, people who take the time to exercise regularly are more productive and energetic than those who don’t. If you find it hard to squeeze in gym time before leaving for work, doing it in the evenings might be better for you.

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  1. […] with people. Even if you’re at a gym you’re rarely exercising alone. Which is good for your mental health. Being better than your workout buddy – running more laps, having faster times  – the […]

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