Mental Benefits of Exercise
Most often we use exercise as a way to improve how we look. Sure, exercise is a great way for you to lose body fat, get stronger, and build muscle but what else is it good for? This is where the mental side of things gets some light.
Exercise is actually insanely good for your mind and well-being. This can be on the level of improving your brain function to even helping with mental problems. Either way, there is no denying that there are numerous mental benefits that come along with exercise.
Some of the benefits covered in this post are going to be mental clarity, depression, anxiety, and stress.
How often have you woken up and had a cup of coffee? It may help for a bit, but quickly you realized that you just feel a haze over you. You can’t focus, you aren’t productive, and you don’t really make the best decisions. This is all caused by brain fog or a lack in your mental clarity.
Now there are a million different “hacks” that people have come up with now in an effort to improve on mental clarity and cognition. However, exercise has been at the top of the list for years now.
If you have ever gotten up and gone on a light run in the morning, you may notice that you have immense focus afterwards. There are numerous high performers who follow this habit as a way to go and properly run their massive companies. That’s because it works!
What happens is that you start to get the body flowing. Your blood pumps better, the brain receives oxygen and nutrients, and all of the metabolites or bad stuff is flushed out. It’s like changing the oil for your brain. You’ll notice that you have this clearer vision that allows for a heightened sense of focus.
You may also be thinking that this means you need to go on mile runs. The answer to that is no. This can literally look like a 15-minute jog in the morning. It could even be a brisk walk. Really anything that is going to increase your heart rate and get the body to start flowing better.
It also doesn’t have to be running or walking. You could just as well go lift weights, swim, or practice yoga. All of which will have very positive effects on your mental clarity.
Imagine that your brain is a car. You don’t want to start your car up cold and try to speed off. We all know that this is not the best for the engine, and it won’t work as great. However, if you take some time and let the engine warm up, that puppy is ready to roll. The same goes for the brain. Get it warmed up, so that you can get after it with your day.
Depression is something that plagues countless people across the world. It can come at various levels and intensities and be triggered by numerous things. However, exercise is something that has been proven to be extremely effective against depression.
Exercise can work on depression in multiple different ways. One of which is promoting a flood of “feel good” hormones to be released. The signal that exercise gives off tells the body to produce more of these chemicals. When this happens, it is almost impossible to not feel a strong sense of happiness and well-being. This feeling can be so strong that some become addicted to this flood of hormones that is produced. This is often referred to as a runner’s high and is why so many people find running to be a great way to improve their level of happiness.
There is also the added benefit of just stimulating the brain. Exercise causes the brain to learn new neural pathways and synthesize many new things within the brain. This is great for forming connections and patterns that increase one’s level of happiness.
Lastly, the exercise just helps to take attention off of depression for a bit. It may not always be a sure-fire fix, but it can help in the process. If you are feeling extremely stuck, a good walk or workout can be just what you needed to get out of an episode.
Anxiety is a huge struggle for people. Especially in the world now, there are more pressures and eyes on our lives than ever before. This makes it hard not to obtain some level of anxiety, whether it be minor or crippling. Luckily, exercise can help.
Anxiety often comes in a subconscious way. It is acting upon us without us even being aware. This is when you need to break this cycle and shift that flow of consciousness onto something else. Imagine during a run or workout session, how free you felt. You weren’t focused on anything but what you were doing and your movements. This is the exact way in which exercise can help to alleviate some anxiety. You stop that negative feedback loop in its tracks, just to replace it with something very positive and reinforcing.
Not to mention, those same endorphins or hormones we mentioned earlier are being released too. These not only can help with depression, but also help to reduce the levels of anxiety that you feel.
There is one other way in which exercise can help, and it comes as a result of consistently exercising. It’s more self-confidence. A ton of anxiety can be caused by a lack of love and confidence for oneself. When you begin to see those positive changes from exercising, you being to feel good inside and out. This takes away the power that your anxiety has over you.
Majority of people are under some sort of stress in their day. We live a life that is focused on more work, more deadlines, and more results. This is super stressful! Over time this stress builds up in us and has nowhere else to go. You can, however, utilize exercise as a release.
Exercise, whether cardio or more strength based, can allow you to take that tension out. It’s an incredible feeling after you have accomplished something difficult and you can feel the benefits immediately. There are even some people who become a totally different person after they have unloaded at the gym.
It gets your mind off things and shuts the rest of the world off. For people who are under chronic stress, you should definitely consider some form of exercise to help put yourself at ease.
You will even begin to notice that you are nicer to people and even make better decisions. It is hard to make the best decision or react the best when clouded by stress. Exercise can allow you to open your mind a little and operate from a better place.
It Isn’t Hard to Start
Now, some may think that this requires running miles on miles. However, it is actually insanely easy to start implementing exercise into your daily life. Start as small as you need to. This can literally be a walk to the mailbox every morning. From there you can build this up into something much bigger, but for now, just start where you need to.
For most it just comes down to being consistent to see a benefit with your mind. If you can find something that is easy for you to implement, then start there. You can increase it or stay where you are. Whatever makes it happen for you on a consistent basis is perfectly fine.
Now, the hardest part is just starting. So, if you want to improve your well-being and lower stress then you need to take the first step. Pick something you know that you can do and then get after it!
Exercise has numerous benefits. One of those benefits just so happens to be related to your mental health. Exercise has been shown to help with depression, anxiety, brain function, and even lower stress. All of which are highly needed in this day and age.
The exercise you choose doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you pick something that works for you and where you are currently. Don’t think that you need to work out like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to get these benefits. You can go for a walk around the block and see a difference. Our bodies were designed to move, and we can’t lose sight of that for a second!
Pick something, and just get to doing.