Everyone benefits from exercise. Whether you want to strengthen your body or simply seek to maintain your weight, getting regular exercise will benefit your health in the long run. But apart from its physical aspect, exercising also has benefits for your mental health.
Below are some mental benefits of exercise.
Improved mood mental health
- During physical activity, the body increases its release of endorphins. Endorphins are known as the “feel good” chemical. This chemical produced by the brain invokes the feeling of euphoria. Generally speaking, endorphins help improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed. Increased endorphin levels do not only make you feel great, but it also helps in managing anxiety and depression by reducing the occurrence of traits associated with it. Although anxiety and depression are often treated with medication, regular exercise over a longer duration has been seen to reduce the symptoms and development of anxiety and depression. Engaging in everyday physical activities also enhances self-esteem, which can go a long way in maintaining a positive self-image.
- The body’s release of stress hormones is decreased during exercise, making you feel calmer overall. At the same time, the increased heart rate brought about by physical activity increases concentrations of neurohormones, such as norepinephrine, which improve cognition, thinking, and mood.
- People who engage in physical activities more often may experience improvements in cognition, such as in academic performance, mental processing speed, memory, and executive function. These include the ability to plan and organize, facilitate behaviors, and control emotions.
- Exercising boosts the brain function by aiding in its maturation and improving memory. Studies show that cardiovascular exercises help in neurogenesis which is the process of creating new brain cells, and ultimately improves overall brain performance. Exercising also helps prevent cognitive decline by strengthening the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that controls memory and learning. It also helps increase the connections between the brain’s nerve cells, which not only improves memory, but also protects the brain against diseases and injuries.
- In older adults who are experiencing cognitive decline, especially in the areas of memory, processing, and executive functions, exercising may help improve their overall mental health.
Lowered risks of certain diseases
- Many diseases and disorders are known to respond positively to lifestyle changes, which include regular exercise. For instance, the risk of developing cognitive conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are lowered among persons who regularly engage in physical activities. Improvements are also seen among persons with impaired mental health due to conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.
- The development of several commonly occurring cancers among physically active adults is also lower in those who are regularly physically active. These include cancers of the:
- Colon (proximal and distal)
- Esophagus (adenocarcinoma)
Improved sleep quality
- Sleep is essential for your wellbeing. Exercising also aids in regulating the circadian rhythm that controls the sleep-wake cycle of the body. Improved sleep quality enables the body to repair itself more effectively while you get that much-needed rest. So that by the time you wake up, you feel energized, and most importantly, your cognitive functions and mental alertness are in tip-top shape.
Getting regular exercise offer benefits that improve many aspects of your health, both internally and externally.
The guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services recommends for most healthy adults at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes to 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. A combination of both activities should also suffice. For these activities, the department’s guidelines specify that the exercise must be spread throughout the week.
Choosing to adopt regular exercise into your lifestyle is a positive choice. But be sure to check with your physician first before you start any exercise regimen, especially if you have concerns about your fitness or if you have any existing medical conditions. To schedule an appointment with a primary care provider at Garnet Health Doctors, call 845-333-7575 or visit GarnetHealth.org/Doctors. Depending on your overall health, your doctor may prescribe specific routines or programs that are more suitable and safer for your present condition.