Exercise is great for the body, we know this. But we often overlook the mental health benefits of moving our bodies on a regular basis.
Movement stimulates the production of mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain. These are the same chemicals that are responsible for memory and learning.
Physical activity can help your body to:
- Feel even better than you already are (mentally, emotionally and physically)
- Reduce your risk of conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, cancer, Altzheimers, Parkinson’s and more
- Recover from a stroke, surgery, or other conditions more quickly than you would if you were sedentary
- Lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight if you’re there already
Mental health benefits of exercise
Exercise is responsible for releasing endorphins like serotonin that improve your mood. Often exercise is done in groups or in communities outside the home, which is great for reducing stress and feelings of loneliness or isolation. These benefits extend beyond your workout time since you could meet a friend that you connect with outside of your workout class.
Stress reduction is part of mental health and regular exercise helps the body manage stress. The likelihood of conditions like depression and anxiety are reduced when you have a regular movement practice.
Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is important for recovery, stress reduction and overall health.
Effect of exercise on the brain
Exercise gets your blood pumping and it sends more blood to the brain, which can help you think more clearly. It also increases the size of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory.
Regular movement also increases connections between the nerve cells in the brain. This improves your memory and protects your brain against injury and disease.
How much exercise do you need?
It’s recommended that adults do 30 minutes of moderate to intensive physical activity on most or all days of the week. You can make up 30 minutes over the day by combining shorter 10 to 15 minute sessions.
Incorporating mindfulness while doing exercise also reduces your stress and gives you extra mental health benefits.
There are so many ways that exercise can bring more joy, connection and health to our lives. Pick your favourite way to move and commit to doing it regularly so you can see the benefits of exercise both mentally and physically.