4 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health Through Exercise

By The Captain October 9, 2020

Wellness Captain Mental Health Exercise

We already know that physical activity is crucial for a balanced lifestyle. But did you know that your body isn’t the only one that reaps important benefits from exercise?

Over the years, medicine showed that exercising regularly can reduce the risk for depression, anxiety and ADHD while improving your memory, sleep quality and general mood.

Gladly, you can still exercise safely outdoors even if it requires wearing a mask sometimes. My post on exercising while wearing a mask outside covers all the tips to get the maximum benefits out of every workout during lockdown.

With that in mind, let’s have a look at 5 ways exercising can help to improve your state of mind:


4 exercise benefits on mental health


Treating depression

While exercising can’t treat depression entirely on its own, it is a major beneficial factor.

A study taken at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that only 15 minutes of jogging per day reduces your risk for chronic depression by 26%. Not into running? Luckily, you can get the same positive effect by walking for one hour daily.

Physical activity is essential for neural growth, reduced inflammation and maintaining a healthy hormonal balance – all of which are crucial to prevent and treat depression. As a plus, exercise is a fun distraction you need to keep your mind off negative thoughts for a while.


Reducing stress levels

How do you feel when you’re stressed? Most people have tense muscles, feeling pressure and some may even struggle with headaches. Other symptoms may include chest tightness, accelerated pulse or even muscle cramps. All of these physical signs can turn into even more stress which might create a vicious cycle.

According to Dr. Daniel Amen, MD, exercising helps with the production of serotonin, known as the feel-good hormone. Studies found that low levels of serotonin can increase chances for depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, women are more likely to develop such problems since they produce 52% less serotonin then men.

The solution? Get moving!


Improving sleep quality

Any kind of physical activity promotes healthy blood circulation and regulates hormone production, both of which can help you get a good night’s sleep.

A very interesting benefit, though, is that exercise can regulate your circadian rhythm. Let’s think of the circadian rhythm as an alarm inside your brain that tells your body when it’s time to rest and when it should get going. Unless it works properly, you can have trouble falling or staying asleep at certain times during the night.

However, note that experts advise against exercising in the evening hours as physical activity increases the production of adrenalin.


Increased self-confidence

Aside from being an essential method of staying healthier, exercise is also a form of self-care that improves your confidence levels. Regardless if you’re walking, doing cardio or lifting weights, setting short-term fitness goals (and achieving them) makes you feel more capable and in charge of your own body.

Furthermore, regular physical activity can also help you to become aware of your self-worth. This, in turn, leads to better life choices in general and improved relationships with your loved ones.


Not sure where to start your exercise journey? Try one of our posts:


What’s your favorite way to exercise during lockdown? Share your fitness journey in the comment section and we’ll get back to you with a piece of advice to improve it!

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Wellness Captain