While it is evident that there is a direct benefit of regular exercise and physical activity to appearance and physical performance, few people are aware that it also greatly improves the overall mental health. Recent research strongly suggests that improved mental health is an important and often-overlooked outcome of regular exercise.
Here are ways exercise can help improve the overall mental health:
- Exercise can help boost self-esteem, which has a direct effect on mental health. Learning how to perfect a yoga pose, finally doing a pull-up with your own bodyweight or lifting a certain amount of weight can leave the feeling of accomplishment, which is the best way to boost self-esteem.
- Exercise increases the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurotransmitter that can stimulate production of new brain cells. Both cardiorespiratory and strength training can help elevate levels of BDNF. These exercises not only help with strengthening muscles but can also boost brain power.
- In this fast and technologically advanced world where we are plugged in 24/7, having the opportunity to take the time out the day to focus on oneself and a favorite activity can help improve mental health. Time spent exercising is a break to unplug from devices and other people while listening to a favorite music or catching up on a favorite hobby through a podcast. Exercising is another form of unwinding and disconnecting. This, in turn, can help change how one feel and improve the overall outlook. This also relieves stress which benefits the overall well-being of an individual.
- Performing varied types of physical activity or learning how to do a new type of exercise can change the brain wiring. It’s like learning a new language! This help to improve the overall cognition and mental acuity. When starting a new exercise and learning the movement patters, the brain and nervous systems are finding the most effective way to perform the new activity. As the activity becomes easier, the brain’s ability to connect the dots and activate the right muscles to help perform the necessary movements is boosted. Thus, improving how the brain functions, which has a direct result on the overall mental health. Try a new work out and get fit while getting smarter!
- How great do you feel after a good night’s sleep? Sleep is when the body repairs itself after its daily challenges. These challenges and sleep are important components of good mental health. A good night’s sleep is also critical for the brain to recharge and refresh. Regular exercise can enhance sleep quality, which can leave you feeling great all day long.
- Taking group fitness classes or simply being at a gym surrounded by other people with the same interests in working towards improving their health can help a person feel connected and that they below. This is an important factor of good mental health. Being new to the neighborhood or going through a major life change such as a death or break-up, the workout time can be the best opportunity for meeting new people and making new friends. Gyms and group classes become mini-communities and are an excellent way to improve social networks, which can have an immediate impact on the mental health.