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Home / Fitness

Five mental health benefits of exercise

 Doing household chores, climbing up a flight of stairs and walking all count as physical activity (Image: Shutterstock)

Besides your physical health, exercise has so many benefits and it truly should come as no surprise that your mental health gets to reap the benefits too.

Whether you set some time aside to get exercise or not, you can use your daily activities to get active. Household chores, climbing stairs instead of using a lift or walking to the bus stop all amount to physical activity.

As long as you are expending energy and moving your body, you are much better placed than a person who does not work out and engages in very little physical activity.

With the right amount and intensity, staying active has been proven to have a positive and rewarding impact on our psychological wellbeing.

As little as a 20-minute run a day will make a huge difference. Not only will you have a killer body but you will feel energized, motivated and resilient to stress.

Here is how your mental wellness is improved every time you hit the gym or get active:

  • Helps you sleep better

Finding it difficult to focus during the day and fall asleep at night? Your answer lies in working out. By staying active, your body temperature increases which has a calming effect on your mind and before you know it, you’re in slumber land.

In the long run, your circadian rhythms become regulated and your body will know when to make you feel tired and get you to sleep soundly. Once your sleep pattern is regulated you will have more and better rest.

It is however not recommended to work out just before bedtime. Instead, do some gentle stretches a few hours before you hit the sack.

 Working out will help you sleep better as it has a calming effect on the mind (Image: Shutterstock)
  • Fights stress

Research has shown that working out leads to the release of certain chemicals-norepinephrine, which help regulate stress. When this takes place in the body, it helps lower physiological reactivity towards stress helping you to cope better.

These neurohormones are also linked to cognitive and mood improvement helping you to think through stressful situations.

  • Increased self-esteem

How good you feel about yourself will have an effect on your esteem. And the closer you are to achieving what you would like to be, say, a bit toned or a few pounds lighter, the better you will feel.

When you’re on the way to achieve your goals you will notice an increase in motor competence, cardiovascular fitness and a self-perception from a positive light.

Fitting well and looking good in certain clothes or climbing the stairs without running out of breath will boost your confidence which will in turn have an impact on your mind, body and spirit.

 When you work out your body releases endorphins that leave you feeling happier (Image: Shutterstock)
  • You feel happier

If you have been feeling down for whatever reason, hitting the gym may help you get out of that dark gloomy cloud. This is because when you work out endorphins are released giving you that euphoric feeling and happiness.

Exercising in some cases has been found to be effective when it comes to treating depression and anxiety requiring no medication. Half an hour spent doing Zumba or cycling per day will make a huge difference on how one feels.

  • Sharp memory

Is there a new project or tough course you want to undertake? Well, lifting those weights and jogging will surely help you make better decisions, think and learn.

According to researchers, your brain derived proteins increase with every tough work out leading to better brain function.

The more you sweat you will enjoy a shaper memory and the ability to learn new things easily. Responsible for this is the increase in production of cells in the hippocampus.

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