Mental health benefits of exercising
The benefits of exercising go far beyond the physical.
A study conducted in 2019 found that people who exercise frequently are better at remembering information and paying attention compared to those who don’t exercise as frequently.
A good exercise routine can improve cognitive functions such as your memory, attention, mood, planning and coordination. Being active can also boost processing speed such as reaction time, or finger tapping. It can also help you sleep better, fight stress and think more clearly. Here’s how.
Improves Cognitive Functions
In the article “The effect of cycling on cognitive function and well-being in older adults” it’s stated that individuals who exercise consistently have improved in memory, problem solving, time management, attention, and decision making. This is accomplished indirectly, as exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress. These three factors are main indicators towards mental health.
Makes you… smarter
Mhm, you read that right. Exercise can also help to stimulate the production of growth hormones that help to create new brain cells, enhancing your cognitive functions like memory and problem solving.
We all know that sleep is key to a well-functioning brain (good mental health), but it’s not always so easy to sleep. Exercise is a great way to get a better night's sleep, as when you're exercising, you’re using your muscles and brain to a full extent, tiring them out for an easier sleep.
Not only does exercise improve sleep, it also decreases sleep complaints, and tiredness mid-day. This is achieved through a boost in the circulatory system. When you're exercising, your body is working harder to boost oxygen supply so you can keep exercising. This boost oxygenates and allows your body to use its energy more efficiently.
Exercising gets the heart beating faster, which in turn pumps (oxygenated) blood to your body more effectively. This increases oxygen to all parts of the body, mainly the brain.
A well-oxygenated brain helps send nerve signals and images to your body faster, improving mental processing speed.
Relieves Stress and Anxiety
Regular exercise increases self-confidence, improves mood and helps you relax (de stress). Achieving these factors has been by many leading psychologists to lower or remove stress from the mind.
Relieved stress can prevent chest pain that could lead to panic attacks and cardiac events that victims described to feel the same as a heart attack!
Wow, you certainly didn’t expect exercising to have as many mental health benefits as the physical.
Exercising improves cognitive functions, sleep and oxygenation. Along with that, exercise relieves stress and anxiety.
“So there really aren’t any downsides to exercise?” Not exactly. Too much of anything is bad, and that goes for exercise as well. Remember to give your body time to rest, and don’t listen to the belief (that many do) of “No Pain No Gain”. Listen to your body, take it slow, and don’t burn yourself out to get “skinny” or “ripped”.
Which mental benefit of exercise surprised you the most, was it all of them?
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