Exercise for mental health

We have previously discussed the benefits exercise can bring your physical health, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, osteoporosis and even cancer. Today’s post will consider some of the not-so-obvious ways your mental health can be improved by regular exercise.

Exercise releases feel-good endorphins which in turn boost your mood. Many people love beginning their day with exercise, as it sets a positive tone for the rest of their day. Exercise provides a natural burst of energy, but also regulates your body’s natural circadian rhythm to ensure a better night’s sleep.

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Exercise is important for managing as well as preventing stress. It provides a good outlet to release nervous energy but also increases the concentration of norepinephrine, which moderates the body’s reaction to stress. Reducing stress levels has a positive flow-on effect to other aspects of your health such as reduced blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

As your appearance changes and your strength increases, it is natural that your confidence and self-esteem will simultaneously increase. This does wonders for conditions such as depression and poor body image.

The increased blood flow brought about by exercise also helps with improving concentration, making you more productive and time efficient. Not only that, but aerobic exercise can assist in the growth of new brain cells thereby making you smarter and keeping your mind healthy as you age. It helps to improve memory and one’s ability to learn new information, and increases creativity levels.

Exercise releases dopamine, which is also secreted in response to other forms of pleasure such as alcohol, drugs, sex and food. Regular activity can therefore help break unhealthy addictions.

These benefits can be obtained in as little as 10 minutes of physical activity. Ideally, aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days per week for best results.

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