Four Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Do you need another reason to get some exercise? I’ve got your back.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a huge proponent of regular exercise and healthy habits. As an athlete I was taught this lesson at an early age, and over the years I have used exercise as a coping mechanism to get through all the problems in my life, both minor and major.

That being said, if you haven’t exercised regularly, you may not be aware of the mental health benefits that regular fitness provides.

Here are four ways that regular exercise benefits your mental health.

Stress and anxiety reduction– According to the American Psychology Association, over 44% of adults use exercise to cope with stress. Why, you may ask? Because it works! Even simple exercises like walking allow your mind to reset, and give a clearer perspective on whatever stressors you are dealing with. The act of physically moving forces your mind to stop worrying about itself, and focus on the body. Stress and Anxiety are mental issues, so you can counteract them by moving your body.

READ MORE: Four Types of Small Group Exercises

Better concentration and cognition- Everyone who has watched Legally Blonde knows that exercise releases endorphins, which make you happy. A little known fact is that endorphins also improve concentration and support the growth of new brain cells. This means that regular exercise can help provide clearer thoughts and memories.

Better sleep- When you exercise regularly, your brain has an easier time winding down at night. Exercise also supports your circadian rhythm, which keeps you on a normal sleeping schedule.

Relationships- Exercising is great for relationships because it encourages a camaraderie between people you work out with. The stress relief benefits can also help romantic relationships, because exercise is self-care and it allows you to handle your own mental stressors without bringing them into your relationship.

Now that you know the mental health benefits of exercise, you are going to go out and work out every day, right? Probably not.

The funny thing about exercise as self-care is that most of the time when you really need it, you aren’t going to feel like doing it. The way around this is to turn exercise into a healthy habit, so that even when you are stressed and depressed, and don’t feel like moving your body, you will do it anyway because it has become a habit.

Afterwards you will always be glad you did.

Published by karenmsutton

HSS Orthopaedic surgeon in sports medicine | Mother of 4 amazing children | Team physician for USA Women's Lacrosse | ACL injury expert

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