5 Ways Fitness Affects Your Mental Health
Ask your doctor, and you’ll get the same advice as anyone else: you need to lead an active life and do your best to counteract the negative effects that sitting for hours has on your health. Whether you decide to walk, jog, join a yoga class, start lifting weights, or anything in between, the numerous perks of exercising regularly are constantly promoted by our doctors in an attempt to help us prevent chronic illness, heart disease, keep our limbs strong and nimble, and to preserve our cardiovascular endurance.
But how many of you have experienced mood slumps, anxiety, or even depression or PTSD, and have been advised to add a workout regime into your life? Chances are, a more significant focus is placed on the medication and counseling, and while those approaches can be beneficial, exercise is a key part of your well-being that can and will transform your mental health for the better.
In case you’re struggling with too much stress in your life, or you’re having issues with anxiety, self-confidence, depression, or anything else, here are a few benefits regular physical activity will bring you.
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1) Elevates your mood
Although this may seem like a temporary solution, most people who are constantly swarmed by negative thoughts and experiences know very well how difficult it can be to shed those negative moods. Exercise is one of the simplest, healthiest, most productive ways to achieve just that – because workouts change your brain’s chemical balance as soon as you hit that treadmill or start another activity.
Your body begins producing oxytocin, endorphins, and other happy hormones, which then flood your system and give you that feeling of immediate bliss and energy. Not only will you interrupt negative thought patterns, but you also get a chance to alter the chemistry of your body through exercise.
2) Inspires you to build other habits
When you’re exhausted, unmotivated, and you feel overwhelmed, you can hardly spare the energy to focus on all those little things during the day that ultimately shape your life and your essence. When you introduce regular training sessions every week and become active, you naturally start taking better care of yourself: workouts inspire you to invest in improving your health in ways other than exercise.
When you train regularly, you’ll be more motivated to choose whole foods in your diet, introduce vitamins and minerals to strengthen your immune system, and to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Being active has a profound impact on your overall mindset and gives you the incentive you need to change your life for the better with other wholesome habits.
3) Boosts self-confidence
When you look at yourself in the mirror, chances are that your mind is already brimming with criticism and complaints. Whether you want to shed some weight, improve your posture, have thicker hair, or deal with your acne, it’s unsurprising so many of us are struggling with self-esteem issues even in adulthood. What happens when you start training is that you slowly change that reflection. You begin to notice all those little advances you’re making at the gym, the tighter legs, the stronger core, the slouch-free shoulders.
Adding to that, just knowing that you’ve overcome certain limitations you’ve had is enough to improve your self-perception over time and allow you to understand that you can indeed achieve so much more when you put your mind and soul to it. Better cognitive skills, improved focus, and other day-to-day perks of exercise will also add to your newly-found confidence and help you build your self-esteem.
4) Reduces stress
While the immediate benefit of working out helps you with your mood, the more long-term impact on your wellbeing is revolved around reducing your chronic exposure to stress. Most of us lead hectic lives, and we have very little time to ourselves, causing us to feel burdened and pressured almost constantly. Exercise helps you relieve that stress buildup and cleanse your body of cortisol, the infamous stress hormone.
As a result, with less cortisol and less stress in your life, your mind can slowly heal from the various anxieties you might be dealing with, as well as other mental health issues that can be caused or at the very least exacerbated by stress. Even as a preventative measure, exercise is perhaps the healthiest way to reduce your stress levels slowly over time in order to avoid having more severe mental health issues down the line.
5) Gives you more energy and resilience
Finally, regular physical activity that you treat like a commitment will help transform your overall health, spiritual and mental, as well as physical. Your body heals with exercise, and your energy is more balanced when you get the chance to use your body more, so your sleep quality will improve, and you’ll consequently have more energy at your disposal. With more energy comes improved resilience, too, making you more impervious to stress triggers in your life, and your mind more immune to challenging situations you are bound to encounter.
Although it does take time to develop the habit of being active and training on a regular basis, the incredible benefits that come with such a practice can be your source of motivation and inspiration when you feel like you’d gladly quit and go back to your cocoon. Exercise paired with meditation as well as healthy eating serves as the pillar of your longevity and the finest investment you can make in yourself.
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