It’s Monday. You’ve already showed up late for work, forgot your lunch, been given some more projects with tight deadlines by your boss and your head feels like it could explode from the day’s stresses. All you want to do is clear and relax your mind, but how?
It’s safe to say we all know that consistent exercise has its many benefits – most notably muscle growth and fat loss. But what can exercise do for our mental health?
If you’ve ever gone for a run after a stressful day, chances are you felt much better afterward. The link between exercise and your mood is a strong one. In fact, usually within 5 minutes after moderate exercise many experience a mood-enhancement effect.
Exercise has been proven to stimulate the production of mood-regulating brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters which include dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline. Increasing production of these chemicals has a positive effect on your mood and may reduce or prevent symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress.
Whether you’re someone who goes on casual walks, or someone that runs marathons, exercise can help you experience the following mental health benefits:
Reduced Stress - Exercise can help with both physical and mental stress. The body’s response to stress is moderated by noradrenaline. Exercise increases noradrenaline, so you’re better prepared to reduce stress and handle existing tension!
Alleviate symptoms of depression – Exercise has also been shown to have a positive effect on your body’s production of endorphins. These chemicals are known to provide feelings of happiness and euphoria.
Improve self-confidence – Exercise can quickly increase self-esteem.
Boost brain power and prevent loss in brain function – exercise helps boost chemicals in the brain that prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Cardiovascular exercises can actually help create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance - this means an improved memory and the ability to learn new things!
Help improve anxiety symptoms – Going for a run or doing some interval training can help reduce anxiety sensitivity.
Get better sleep – Exercise can help you get better sleep in the long-term.
Control addiction – some people can become addicted to dopamine and those substances that produce it. Luckily, exercise also stimulates the production of dopamine.
What motivates your gym sessions? Weight loss results? A clearer, more relaxed mind?