The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
A wise, young law student once said, “exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.”
While we, as a society, have learned many things from Elle Woods, this quote in particular has always stayed with us because, it’s true! (Not about the husband thing, but definitely the endorphins!)
Endorphins do make you happy! But exercise also provides so many other benefits for mental health that we decided, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, to look at how exactly exercise works to improve mental health and the many easy ways you can up your activity game!
Before we begin, we also want to make sure you speak to your physician or healthcare provider regarding your unique needs!
Why Does Exercise Improve Mental Health: The Science!
To keep it basic, let’s get to know three hormones: adrenaline, cortisol, and, of course, endorphins.
According to Harvard University, consistent aerobic exercise can help reduce the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, while at the same time, increasing endorphins, the body’s feel good hormone.
In an effort to stabilize these hormones in your body, developing a consistent and fun workout schedule will actually change the brain’s chemistry and give you long-term effects. This is why finding a workout that you can stick to is so important!
Getting inspired yet? Let’s look at more amazing benefits that come from exercise.
Helps Reduce Symptoms of Depression
Did you know that exercise can actually be incredibly beneficial to those who suffer from mild to moderate symptoms of depression? According to a study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, as little as 15 minutes of running or one hour of walking can help to reduce the risk of major depression by 26%.
So, for one week, instead of spending an hour on TikTok (we’re guilty of this, too), go for a walk and listen to your favourite podcast! You might just start to feel more energized.
Helps Alleviate Anxiety
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors used stress and adrenaline as a hunting tool – gaining speed, strength, and clarity in order to find food. Nowadays, we have the same stress and adrenaline, but no outline, which leaves many of us with chronic anxiety.
Exercise is one of the best ways to alleviate anxiety due to its ability to reduce these hormones. Afterall, our ancestors burned off their stress running from animals. Now, we can also get in a good run to burn off stress (minus the mammoth!)
Improved Memory and Cognition
Exercise can help improve memory and cognition by stimulating the growth of new brain cells, aiding in the prevention of age-related decline.
There’s a reason parents always insist on keeping their kids active so they’ll “sleep better.” Well, this is true!
Over time, exercises can help your body regulate its internal sleep schedule. For an even better sleep, we recommend yoga and gentle stretching to further relax the body.
If you haven’t worked out in a while, you might feel extremely tired, but don’t give up! With continuous, consistent exercise, you’ll actually increase your energy levels! You can then continue building up your stamina with more intense workouts.
Ways to Be More Active Every Day
If you’re looking to improve your mental health, but aren’t sure where to start, don’t worry! Even small movements every day can help.
Here are our favourite ways to be more active every day:
- Grocery Shopping
- House Work
- Biking to Work
- Dance Class
- Light Sport
When it comes to exercise, it’s always best to smart small and build up from there. If you’re looking for a customized workout plan, it’s always best to speak to a certified personal trainer who can design a plan to meet your unique needs!
Create a Workout Plan at Fitness World!
At Fitness World, our main focus is health – physical and mental! We believe in the power of exercise to help improve mental health which is why we’re so passionate about what we do.
If you’re looking to start your health journey today, there’s no better place to begin than with us!
Join today and get started!