Let’s face it: Jogging around the block or hitting the treadmill for 30 minutes hardly sounds like fun. Especially amid our busy routines, finding the time to break a sweat feels like a hassle. Ironically, however, working out may be just the thing you need to recharge mentally.
Countless studies have shown that physical activity has the power to stimulate the brain. It facilitates stress relief and improves mental health. And it’s all much easier to accomplish when you know how it works. Here are a few of the reasons why exercise is good for mental health.
Working Out Reduces Stress
Even though your nerves may be on edge and all you want to do is lay down, choosing to stay active can help with anxiety. When you get your body moving, your brain releases chemicals to keep you both calm and invigorated.
Specifically, the brain triggers dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin to help regulate your overall mood. These chemicals create a harmonious response among your various physiological systems. For example, increased blood flow activates the cardiovascular and renal systems, leading the muscular system to respond. These systems together bolster your nervous system. Stimulation of this kind can also improve your sleep cycles and metabolism since it directly counters the lack of bodily communication that’s brought on by consistent inactivity.
Your Physical Health Improves Your Mental Health
Along with vital chemical reactions that enhance your mood, exercise does wonders for your mental health.
Right when you start to work out, your body recognizes the abrupt difference in physical activity. To cope with this moment of stress, your brain enters the “fight or flight” mode, releasing a protein called the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). This protein triggers a process known as neuroplasticity, allowing your brain to form new synaptic connections that restore clarity and increase your happiness levels. In addition, endorphins are rushed through the body, giving you the sensation commonly called a “runner’s high” and making you feel euphoric.
Working out is a lot more than just breaking a sweat and burning calories. There are all kinds of things happening within the body that revitalize your concentration, lower your blood pressure, and even decrease your chances of cognitive diseases. Studies even show that working out for as little as 20 minutes a day can lower your risk of dementia and Alzheimers by up to 30%.
Finding the motivation you need to stay active can be tough. EHE offers lots of ways to learn more about your body and take positive steps toward a healthier lifestyle. Your well-being all starts with how you think, and choosing to exercise will only lead to a stronger mental health. The next time you come home with the urge to flop on the couch and turn on the TV, consider throwing on your workout gear. You’ll be surprised by how you feel afterward!