Discover the Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Do you live under constant pressure? Are you stressed out by work and house chores? If so, you’re not alone. One in five people experience extreme stress. Over 44 percent feel more stressed and overwhelmed by daily problems than they did five years ago. Many of them complain about dealing with depression, anxiety, heart palpitations, shaking, weight gain, headaches and other health problems caused by a hectic lifestyle. Researchers have found that stress is the basic cause of up to 60 percent of all illnesses.


The good news is that you can fight stress and gain control over your life. Start by exercising more! Regular physical activity relieves stress, wards off depression, and promotes mental well-being. According to the World Health Organization, exercising is one of the simplest and most effective ways to minimize the harmful effects of stress.

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How Does Exercise Improve Mental Health?


Most people are aware that physical activity is the key to a fit body and better health. What they don’t know is that exercise can be just as effective for treating anxiety and depression as cognitive therapy. It’s no wonder why so many health experts have started to promote physical activity among persons with serious mental illness.


Studies indicate that exercise is highly effective for preventing and treating mild to moderate depression. It has also proven beneficial as an adjunct to treatment of alcohol and drug addiction. When you’re working out, your brain produces galanin, a chemical that helps control the stress related cravings in drug addicts. A recent study performed on rats has shown that those who were on the wheel had fewer cravings for drugs than those who were not engaged in physical activity.


It’s no doubt that exercise helps your body deal with stress more effectively. It basically improves stress tolerance by stimulating the mood boosting chemicals in your brain. For example, cardio exercise increases serotonin levels. Its effects on your mood are similar to those triggered by alcohol and drugs, but without the side effects. Physical activity also improves cognitive function, lifts your mood, and helps you make better decisions. This explains why teenagers who work out regularly smoke less than those with a sedentary lifestyle.


An overwhelming amount of evidence suggests that exercise keeps your mind strong and helps control mood swings. If you’re prone to depression or suffer from anxiety, start working out! Not only you’ll look better and feel self confident, but also experience fewer depressive episodes. Physical activity controls the impact of cortisol – the stress hormone, serotonin, dopamine and other chemicals that are influence your mood. Exercise is one of the most powerful weapons against depression and stress related conditions.


Physical Activity – The Key to Mental Well-Being


From children and teenagers to seniors, everyone can benefit from exercise. By increasing the feel good hormones in your brain, exercise makes you happy and helps you cope up the stressful events of your life. There are three main reasons why physical activity is important for mental health:


  • It helps prevents and control depression
  • It relives anxiety and stress
  • It improves self perception and body image


However, its mental benefits are not limited to the treatment of depression. Scientists have found that exercise improves cognitive function and prevents memory decline in older adults. It also boosts your self confidence and self esteem, facilitates neuroadaptive processes, and modifies the body’s response to stress. Physical activity has the potential to influence smoking, drug addiction, eating habits and other health behaviours.


Regular exercise can dramatically improve mental health. Not only it increases blood flow to your brain, but also influences your thoughts as well as the way you interact with other people and the environment. The mind-body connection plays a key role in all of these processes.

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Experts claim that exercise is an overlooked factor in mental health care. Despite its numerous health benefits, physical activity is rarely used for treating or preventing mental illnesses. It has been scientifically proven that regular exercise may improve the quality of life of those suffering from schizophrenia. It also regulates the mood, which is particularly important for people diagnosed with bipolar disorder or obsessive compulsive disorders.


Physical activity has a host of benefits for all ages and in both genders. Its positive impact on mental health should not be underestimated. Next time you’re feeling sad or depressed, head over to the gym or exercise at home. Work out for at least 30 minutes over your favourite music. If you do this, you’ll feel much better afterwards. The health benefits of exercise are immediate. Not to mention that you’ll meet other people at the gym, make friends, and socialize. For best results, exercise at least four days a week. Clear your mind and focus on your workouts. Forget about your daily worries and enjoy your exercise routine!


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