Exercise To Improve Mental Health
We all know that exercising regularly will benefit us physically. But have you ever thought about the psychological benefits from physical activity?
Physical activity is extremely important for boosting mental health. Several studies show that individuals who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and lower rates of stress and depression. Improved self-esteem is an important psychological benefit of regular exercise. When you train, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins interact with receptors in the brain that reduce your perception of pain.
By exercising more you reduce levels of the ‘stress’ hormone, cortisol. Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels can increase the risk of depression and mental illness. Activities such as walking, jogging, swimming, weight training and biking are all fantastic ways to reduce levels of cortisol. A small amount of cardio can go a very long way. Just 30 minutes of exercise, 3-4 times a week pays huge dividends by lowering cortisol every day and in long term.
‘Fear’ also increases cortisol levels. Physical activity will decrease fear by increasing your self-confidence. Exercises such as Yoga will have similar benefits to aerobic training but with added benefits of mindfulness training.
Being active doesn’t have to mean you must go to the gym, why not join a running club, or an outdoor boot camp? There are so many different ways to exercise and ways to have fun with it.
Taking part in physical activities offers many opportunities. It’s a great way to meet people. And it can be a chance to give yourself a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Exercise and physical activity can provide something worthwhile in your life. Something that you really enjoy, that gives you a goal to aim for and a sense of purpose.
When you first begin your exercise routine, you should plan a program that is easy to follow and maintain. When you start feeling comfortable with your program that is when you can start varying your exercises.
Here are some helpful tips to get you kick started:
- Choose an activity you enjoy. Exercising shouldn’t be a chore. Yes physically challenging but also enjoyable.
- Vary your exercises so that you don't get bored. Check with your local gym, leisure centre or find a personal trainer that can help devise you an exercise program that you will not get fed up of.
- Invest in your health. Being healthy is important to everyone, we all know this. Investing in a gym membership or a personal trainer could be the most important investment you make.
- Stick with it. If you exercise regularly, it will soon become part of your lifestyle and will help reduce your depression.