Helps with Depression. Physical activity increases endorphin levels and produces feelings of happiness. Even moderate exercise throughout the week can improve depression.
Decreases Anxiety. Exercise can divert an individual from the very thing they are anxious about. Being physically active decreases muscle tension, which lowers the body’s contribution to feeling anxious. Increasing one’s heart rate changes the brain chemistry, which increases the availability of important anti-anxiety neurochemicals. About five-minutes of exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects. Further, regular exercise helps with the body’s fight-or-flight response and bolsters resilience against anxiety.
Decreases Stress. Increasing your heart rate stimulates the production of neurohormones like norepinephrine, which improves cognition, mood, and thinking clouded by stressful events. Further, exercise forces the body’s central and sympathetic nervous system to communicate with one another which improves the body’s ability to respond to stress.
Improves Self-Esteem. Completing ten burpees, running a mile, deadlifting one hundred twenty pounds are all accomplishments that can be achieved through exercise. All the accomplishments achieved from exercise can add a needed boost to self-esteem and ultimately to one’s self-confidence.
Improves Sleep. Sleep is important to mental health and exercise can lead to better sleep. Exercise increases body temperature, which can have a calming effect on the mind leading to more restful sleep. Further, exercise helps regulate one’s circadian rhythm, which is our body’s alarm clock that controls when we feel alert and when we feel tired.
Increases Brain Performance. Physical activity has been found to boost both creativity and mental energy. A tough workout can increase levels of brain-deprived proteins, BDNF, which are believed to help with decision making, higher thoughts, and learning.
Prevents Cognitive Decline. Exercise and diet can help protect the brain from cognitive decline. Exercise boots chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.
Helps Control Addiction. Exercise can help in addiction recovery. Exercise produces healthy dopamine, the “reward chemical” versus unhealthy dopamine from substances such as drugs and alcohol. Exercise sessions can effectively distract addicts, making them de-prioritize their cravings.
Exercise outside. Exercising outside can further lower stress and anxiety. Research has found that even five minutes of outdoor exercise can improve your mood. Additionally, exercising outside also provides the body an opportunity to get Vitamin D which helps fight disease. Further, exercise reduces screen time and gives our brain an important break from technology.