We all know what exercising does to our physical well-being – it controls our weight, improves digestion and combats health diseases. Apart from physically seeing an improvement, regular exercise and your mental health go hand in hand.
Your mental well being is just as important as your physical. It encompasses a range of factors such as the sense of feeling good about yourself and the ability to create connections and relationships with people around you. Not only this, but it’s about having a sense of purpose, feeling valued and being able to cope with challenges.
How does exercise help our mental health?
Online pharmacy, Pharmica have found 5 great ways exercise can improve your mental health.
Improvement in mood
Regular exercise is linked with an improvement in your mood. It’s even thought that it can be just as effective as taking antidepressants. We don’t exactly know why exercise improves your mood, but what we do know is that it keeps your energy levels up, boosts confidence levels and increases the level of endorphins which naturally uplift the mood so you feel good about your yourself.
When you feel stressed, the impact is felt throughout the whole body – tense muscles, headaches, racing heartbeat are just some of the physical symptoms. Other symptoms include insomnia, stomach aches, or heartburn. The symptoms could in turn lead to more stress, which could turn into a vicious cycle, impacting the connection between your mind and body. Exercising reduces the body’s stress hormones, cortisone and adrenaline and produces endorphins – a chemical in the brain that acts as a painkiller and exerts a positive feeling in the body. These endorphins can help alleviate stress, improve sleep and boost self-esteem.
An improvement in your body image will naturally boost your self-esteem and confidence, helping you foster a more positive attitude and emotional stamina to achieve your goals and tackle challenges. Exercising gives you a sense of accomplishment because it’s all about setting and achieving goals. Every time you accomplish your goals you immediately feel better about yourself.
Impact on depression
An all-natural treatment to fight depression can be through exercise. The endorphins released from exercising naturally improves your mood which can take your mind off of your worries or any negative thoughts that you may have. Getting in shape, feeling more comfortable with yourself and achieving goals can be a confidence booster and may encourage you to socialize and interact with people more. Exercising is a healthy coping strategy to depression rather than turning to alcoholism which would only make you feel worse.
Regular exercise will cause the hippocampus size to increase – the part of the brain involved in memory and learning. Improving the function of the hippocampus will keep your brain sharp by increasing the oxygen to the brain, stimulate new neuronal connections and reduce the risk of developing disorders such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease which could lead to memory loss. Regular exercise improves your sleep and mood and alleviates stress. If you were having any of these areas it could lead to cognitive impairment over time.
Regular exercise and being active doesn’t mean spending ages at the gym. There is a variety of activities you can partake in which you can enjoy and fit into your lifestyle. Examples include walking, yoga, cycling or swimming.