How Consistent Exercise Improves Mental Health
Modernization has changed our lives, but its technology and barrage of information have contributed to an increase in mental health concerns, like anxiety. Furthermore, the recent political climate remains stressful for many. And now, a pandemic means restrictions to social lives, daily routines, and for many, financial hardships. More than ever mental health is at the forefront of conversations.
Though the stress and isolation can weigh heavily, there is a relief. After a day of social distancing and zoom meetings, a quick run or walk in the park is all one may need to feel better. Research supports this and has shown that exercise can improve mental health. When people do physical activities such as running, yoga, or bicycling, the results are amazing outside and in. For example, exercise can reduce stress, improve moods, and boost energy!
Stress Reduction – Exercises reduces the amount of cortisol, a stress hormone, released in the body, and helps to decrease overall heart rate and blood pressure. Likewise, it may improve sleep – helping people to fall asleep faster and maintain a deeper, more restful slumber.
Mood Enhancement – Exercise releases endorphins, the “feel-good” chemical, from the brain into the body. Endorphins not only improve the mood but help with overall relaxation. Other benefits to exercise include a reduction in anxiety and depression and an increase in self-esteem.
Energy Boost – Physical activity circulates blood and helps move oxygen and nutrients throughout the body to the brain. This not only helps concentration and other brain functions but benefits the heart and lungs while providing an overall energy lift.
Where you exercise may also improve mental well-being. Nature proves beneficial to mental health, making outdoor exercises like running especially advantageous. The great outdoors provides more oxygen and natural light, and the benefits are more than physical.
Research documents spending time outside lifts moods. A Stanford study stated, “time in nature was found to have a positive effect on mood and a dampening effect on anxiety.” Some doctors overseas have also started prescribing nature to help treat high blood pressure, anxiety, and more (as reported by CNN).
Clearly, exercise improves the body, but fewer individuals know its mental health benefits. Yet, as more people add exercise to their self-quarantine routines, they will learn what runners already know: exercise makes you feel good! And, the best part about exercising during these uncertain times is when our world returns to normal, the benefits will stay – improving not only our bodies but our minds.
Health is wealth!