What Does Fitness Have to Do to Our Mental Health?

There’s a saying, “exercise not only changes your body. It changes your mind, your attitude and your mood.” According to the American Psychological Association, there’s a strong connection between body and mind. For some people, working out may be a way to help them out of their head.

That’s because exercise provides a distraction. And it’s such a better escape from the “storm” in your mind, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts.

Exercise gets the blood pumping and then the brain starts functioning at its best. Let’s learn how moderate daily exercise can be beneficial, not only for our physical health, but also our mental health:

1. It Boosts Mood and Self-Confidence

Exercise affects mood, anxiety and attention and guards against stress. Endorphins produced by exercise can actually help you feel better. Being active and feeling strong naturally helps you feel more self-confident.

2. It’s Good for The Brain

Inactivity is killing our brains too. It’s physically shrinking them. If we want to keep our brains functioning at their best, we need to physically move our bodies. Physical activity is critical to how we think and feel.

Exercise prepares the brain for learning. The brain responds to exercise like muscles do — growing with use, shrinking with inactivity. Exercise benefits regular brain functions and can help keep the brain active. It may even help slow the progression of brain disorders.

3. It Helps Reduce Anxiety

Instinctively we want to avoid a situation that makes us feel anxious. But unfortunately, sometimes it’s just inevitable. And when we’re anxious, it affects more than just our brain.

The brain is the center for many nerve connections that communicate with the rest of the body. If our body feels good by moving, our mind is bound to feel good too.

4. It Makes You Feel Happy

We all know the feeling. Sweating after a good workout but feeling happy and satisfied at the same time. That’s because exercise increases levels of the neurotransmitters (serotonin, nor epinephrine, dopamine).

They’re all about communication of thought and emotions in the brain. Many drugs used to improve mental health target one or more of these three neurotransmitters. Unlike a drug, exercise manipulates more than only one neurotransmitter — it balances them.

5. It Relieves Depression

Exercise effects on depressive symptoms are innumerable. Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication—but without the side-effects, of course.

It promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being.

Life is like a bicycle. In order to keep its balance is to keep moving. So, move. Every day.

photo: agoramedia.com

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