Most of us think of exercise as a way to improve their physical health. However, more and more research is showing that there is a strong relationship between exercise and mental health. With the extra stress and uncertainty impacting people all over the globe, self-care is more important now than it has ever been.
Exercise has short-term mental health benefits. Do you know that most people report feeling a boost in their mood after as little as five minutes of exercise? That is because exercise results in the release of endorphins, which interact with receptors in your brain and give you a physical “high” that elevates mood and reduces the perception of pain.
Exercise has been shown to be as effective as medication in alleviating the symptoms of mild-to-moderate depression, and the impact of exercise on people with depression may be increased if used together with other therapies.
Exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety, increasing relaxation.
Regular exercise improves sleep, which has its own impact on mental health.
In the long-term, exercise leads to increased endurance, greater energy, and more physical strength. All three of these can help counteract some of the natural deterioration that is part of the aging process.
Exercise can improve physical health by reducing blood pressure, helping regulate blood sugar, improving lung function, and improving cardiovascular function. These improvements in physical health can help people feel better, which boosts mental health.
Even if you have never exercised before, it can be easy to add exercise to your daily routine. The key is to start out safely and slowly. Exercise programs that are too rigorous can lead to injury, but they can also be so difficult that people find them discouraging and fail to continue with them. By incorporating enjoyable and safe physical activities, you can improve your physical health and your mental health.