Want to boost your mental health? Here’s one of the best ways to do it: Get moving. Because
of how interrelated the mind and body are, what’s good for one is often good for the other.
This is exactly the case with physical activity. Exercise offers major benefits for physical and
mental health. In fact, an active lifestyle has consistently been linked with a better mood,
reduced stress, and enhanced cognitive function.
When you move your body, you are not only improving your overall well-being, but you’re also
taking steps to manage and prevent many kinds of mental health challenges. Here’s a closer
look at the powerful mind-related benefits available through exercise:
Relieving Stress and Its Effects
Modern life makes stress a constant — but that doesn’t mean you have to surrender to its
damage. Physical activity changes chemicals in the brain, including endorphins, serotine and the
all-important stress hormones. In other words, exercise biologically reduces the toll that stress
takes on your mind and mood. Think of exercise as a safe, healthy, beneficial coping technique
for all the frustrations and challenges you’re facing.
Reducing Anxiety and Depression
With so many people experiencing anxiety and/or depression at alarming levels today, anything
that combats these conditions is worth trying. Here’s the thing: Even small amounts of regular
exercise offer a boost to mental health. Physical activity has been shown to improve symptoms
of depression and anxiety, as well as to prevent the risk of developing depression in the first
place. Simply by being active, you can prevent and/or improve your experience of some of the
most common mental health problems.
Providing More and Better Sleep
Studies consistently show physical activity to improve sleep — which is a huge factor in mental
health and wellness. As anyone who’s had a bad night’s sleep could tell you, lack of rest makes
it hard to focus, decreases energy, and harms your mood. Repeated sleep deficiency can
increase the risk of various diseases, too, including heart disease and diabetes. Being regularly
active — even in small, simple ways — does wonders for getting a good night’s sleep. At the
same time, it’s also benefiting cardiovascular and overall health, too.
Creating Less Dependence on Addictions
Whether you’re trying to cut cravings for a harmful substance or spend less time on social
media, exercise provides a natural way to push back against addictive behavior. By going for
daily walks, committing to an aerobic routine, or taking part in regular yoga, you can push back
against tendencies that are harmful to the body and mind.
Giving You a Sense of Control
Because it requires you to take action, exercise gives you a way to stop feeling like a victim and
gain a sense of control. When you know how to manage your mental health challenges, you
don’t have to feel as overwhelmed by them. In turn, this gives you more confidence and self-
esteem, providing further mental health benefits.
People who exercise regularly enjoy all kinds of positive side effects — including to their mental
health. Getting active allows you to experience real physical changes such as different brain
chemicals, reduced anxiety, better sleep, and less addictive tendencies.
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