How Exercise Benefits your Mental Health
If you've ever spoken to your doctor or counsellor about struggling with depression or another mental illness, they have likely asked if you exercise regularly. If you haven't been asked this, I am now asking you! Exercise is beneficial to your body in so many ways, not just your general health but also your mental health.
There is so much research to support the relation of exercise to positive mental health. The science behind it is exercise releases a number of chemicals in your brain. Your brain along with your spine creates and releases endorphins, the chemical known to make you feel good. Even a small amount of exercise consistently through the week raises your endorphin levels enough to help with anxiety. Increasing your heart rate also stimulates your brain to produce neurohormones, which can help improve cognitive ability and reverse stress induced damage to the brain. Exercise creates new brain cells and strengthens the hippocampus helping with memory and learning.
All sound pretty complicated I know, but essentially exercise and raising your heart rate encourages your brain to feel better and become healthier!
If you are like me and also have difficulty sleeping, you have a hard time shutting your brain down for the night. Exercise can help with this too, by raising your body's temperature which calms the mind. This also helps to regulate circadian rhythm (our body's internal alarm clock telling us when to be alert and when to rest.) Due to this it is also reccomended to not exercise too closely to bedtime.
Aside from all the chemical and scientific benefits, exercise boosts your confidence and creativity. We all know the feeling of looking our best, it is so empowering. Once you get in a habit of regular physical activity, you will crave it. There are so many benefits to regular exercise and there isn't one health professional that will tell you to "not exercise." So why not try it? You don't need to go out and spend money on a gym membership, go for a walk around your neighborhood. Look online for inspiration, follow a Youtube video workout in your living room. Whatever works for you! There are no "rules" the key is to just get your body moving.
What is your favourite form of exercise? Everyone has their personal routines and i'd love to know yours! For me I like to focus on cardio, and I am lucky enough to live in an apartment complex with a gym. I also enjoy utilizing this facility for the weight machines and cardio machines when the weather isn't encouraging me to walk outside. Try a bunch of different routines and find something you enjoy, it makes it so much easier to stick to a routine!
Let me know your favourite ways to stay motivated and get your body moving in the comments!
Stay safe and stay strong,