Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

There are so many reasons to exercise, our bodies literally need it, yet it’s important to look beyond just the physical and realise it’s not only about the strength of our muscles or which dress size we’re in but also the often overlooked, yet hugely beneficial effects on our sense of well-being and mental health.
It is proven that regular exercise can help alleviate and manage several specific mental health issues namely, depression, anxiety, PTSD and stress, it also improves general wellbeing status’ such as memory and thinking ability, sleep patterns, energy levels, moods and resilience to life changes.

Feeling happy with your appearance and knowing what your body is capable of, no doubt contributes to an increase in self esteem, yet on a chemical level physical activity actually boosts the production of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain, which all have very positive effects on many aspects of mental health. Improvements in conditions such as mild to moderate depression can be so good it help sufferers actually avoid having to take medication and endure their unpleasant side effects.

Stress relief can be found by way of mere distraction, spend an hour in a Pilates class or jogging in nature and your mind can be diverted away from negative thought patterns to give the nervous system much needed respite, promoting healing and fortifying the immune system. Gentle stretching and walking can induce a sense of calm and more intense anxiety issues causing tension and stress in the muscles can be relieved with the production of endorphins through more vigorous exercise, which also promotes a sharper more focused mind.

Other changes in the brain include neural growth, new brain cell development reduces age related cognitive decline and improves mental agility and symptoms of PTSD have been proven to be reduced with activities involving both the arms & legs such as running, hiking, swimming, mountain biking, rock climbing and dancing.

So get exercising to get happy! 😉

– This article has been published in the January edition of Life Magazines –