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10 Ways Exercise Will Improve Your Mental Health

10 Ways Exercise Will Improve Your Mental Health

What are the reasons you exercise? To gain muscle, lose weight, improve cardiovascular fitness? Everyone has different motivations but one of the most important benefits that we should consider are the positive affects that exercise has on our mental health.

1. Boosting happy chemicals.... One of the most beneficial effects of exercise is its release of endorphins - the natural happiness booster! Those who suffer from anxiety or depression can positively benefit from exercise with studies proving that an exercise session (in some cases) can be as effective as anti-depressants in treating depression. The best news is that you don't need to head to the gym to get the endorphin benefits, it can be as simple as going for a walk for 30min. Aim for 150min of moderate activity per week for a real happiness boost!

2. Stress Relief.... We all feel stress in life, whether it's from work, kids, busy schedules, bills etc. but did you know that exercise can help reduce both physical and mental stress. During exercise, the body increases levels of norepinephrine which is a chemical which moderates the bodies level of stress. Increased concentrations of this chemical can have you thinking clearer and feeling less pressures... why wouldn't you do it!

3. Enjoying Nature....... With so much time spent indoors behind computers etc. we often forget how amazing it can be to head outdoors and enjoy the simplicity of nature. There are an abundance of outdoor exercises such as walking, jogging, rock climbing, kayaking, paddle boarding etc. which will allow you to appreciate nature, feel self-love and increase levels of vitamin D by getting some sunshine into your day. Another bonus of outdoor exercising and increased levels of vitamin D is again a reduced incidence of depression.

4. Prevention / Delaying Cognitive Decline...... After the age of 45, whether we like it or not, or our brain function starts to decline. Between the ages of 25-45, we have a great opportunity to boost chemicals in the brain to prevent degeneration and cognitive decline. Although exercise won't prevent diseases such as Alzheimer's or Dementia, it can definitely help in prolonging the onset.

5. Be more productive... Studies have shown that exercising in the middle of the day can help the bodies circadian rhythm and working out during this time can leave you feeling more energetic and productive. So if you're feeling a slump at work, head out for a walk at lunchtime or during the dreaded 3pm time slot!

6. Increased Relaxation.... When working out, it increases the bodies core temperature therefore it's best to workout 5-6 hours before sleep as it's when your body temperature drops down that it signals the body that it's time for bed. It's also been found that a moderate intensity workout can be as effective as a sleeping pill.

7. Find a Workout Buddy.... Find it hard to get the motivation to workout on your own? Studies have found that if we partner up with a friend to workout some sweat, we will perform better! It could be the competitiveness of it or that we don't want to let the other person down 🙂

8. Controlling Addictions.... In many instances of pleasure whether it be exercise, food, alcohol etc., the body will release dopamine which is a "reward chemical". Some people become addicted to this feeling but in relation to things such as alcohol or drugs. Introducing exercise into the lives of people who suffer addictions such as these can aid as a distraction or in mild cases a replacement.

9.Increase Memory and Learning.... Working out on a regular basis has proven benefits to help learn new things and boost memory. The hippocampus (part of the brain responsible for memory and learning) has an increase in production of cells when you complete a workout. Studies have shown huge benefits particularly in children, so instead of inside video games, some old fashioned running around outside will benefit them greatly!

10. Improve Self-Confidence..... Exercise can be tough when starting out if you feel lethargic and don't like the way you look in clothes. With every sweat session, you will begin to look and feel better which will increase your self-confidence and self-image. Start slow to ensure a regular routine is established and in no time you will be feeling so much better!

Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/mental-health-benefits-exercise_n_2956099

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