Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Mental health refers to someone’s state of mind that is calm and composed. The importance of healthy mental health cannot be overstressed. An individual with a sound mind lives a healthy life, can handle stress in everyday life, thinks positively, realizes his full potential, and makes important contributions to society.

Mental health is a serious issue in the world. Do you know how many people take their own life due to mental sickness every year? According to the World Health Organization, it’s a staggering 700,000. While various effective medications are available for treating mental disorders, however, these medications are not free of side effects. In this context, exercises for mental health are far more effective in combating mental disorders. Let’s explore the various ways in which exercise positively influences mental health.

Physical Activity and Brain Chemistry

Doing an exercise like running, jogging, or simple walking may appear to be not challenging, however, the unseen complex chemical process that takes place inside your body, in the brain in particular, is not that simple. When you begin exercising depending on the intensity of your exercises, the release of the body’s several important chemical messengers happens. These messengers are called neurotransmitters. A few of the important neurotransmitters. are endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. Each of these neurotransmitters has a different impact on your body. Endorphins, for example, are a group of neurotransmitters, responsible for blocking pain and increasing the sensation of pleasure. At the end of a strenuous exercise, the euphoric feeling is thought to be due to the release of endorphins.

The role of the neurotransmitter serotonin is to control your mood. The presence of serotonin at a normal level ensures a range of positive feelings including being emotionally stable, more focused, happier, and calmer. However, low levels of serotonin results in depression.

Impactful exercises cause the brain to release dopamine. This neurotransmitter is responsible for giving you the feeling of pleasure. It also plays a role in the body’s other processes like controlling heart rate, sleep cycles, mood, attention, motivation, working memory, learning, and pain processing.

Stress Reduction through Exercise

Stress is related to your mental situation. If something odd happens to you which is quite bad for you, but you have little or no control over managing it for the time being, it means you are in a stressful situation. If someone loses his job, for example, it is a stressful situation for him. No one is completely free of stress, albeit with varying degrees. However, stress is not bad since it prompts you to seek a solution. And, the way or means you respond to stress will determine whether you will overcome the problem. Exercise is an effective answer to address stress.

How exercise helps to reduce cortisol levels

The cortisol is a stress-causing hormone. With the increase in the intensity of exercising, cortisol circulation also increases. However, this increase is offset by the hormonal response of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. As a result, the rise in cortisol circulating due to exercising does not impact the individual with psychological stressors. Aerobic activities including Yoga, and tai chi are stress-reducing exercises.


Yoga promotes mental and physical relaxation instead of worsening your depression. Yoga poses are effective exercises to loosen up taut muscles. They also help to release the mood-enhancing hormone endorphins. Your good feelings originate due to the release of this hormone. Good feelings are essential during a stressful event.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a form of exercise that involves slow movements, and deep breaths. This exercise originates from Chinese tradition and the movements associated with Tai Chi result in several movements of body muscles including twisting, turning, and stretching that will help in releasing tension in our body.

Exercise as an anti-depressant

Though we are enjoying a more prosperous time than our ancestors, depression, and anxiety are as prevalent as now than any time in history. Ten in one person in the United States, for example, is affected by depression or anxiety. Billion-dollar pharmaceutical industries are ready to exploit people’s sufferings from mental issues by offering various anti-depressant drugs. While these drugs are effective against mental issues, so are physical exercises. Exercise is inexpensive. Exercising takes your worries off thus relieving you from sustained mental pressure. And, when you feel better the return of depression or anxiety is little.

How exercise helps to alleviate symptoms of anxiety disorders

Exercising has the potential to alleviate symptoms of anxiety disorders. When you exercise, you force your heart to contract more frequently resulting in more blood flow to the brain. This surge of blood in the brain brings some positive changes in hormones that are responsible for giving people good feelings. These changes boost mood and confidence thereby repealing anxiety disorders.

How Achieving Fitness Goals Can Enhance Self-esteem

Enhanced self-esteem is important to live a meaningful life. Achieving a fitness goal can boost your self-esteem. How? When you target a fitness goal and start exercising every day to achieve it, the slow yet steady impact of the exercise would be weight loss, muscle gain, and an enhanced body composition. Seeing these positive changes will give you the confidence that you can do something better, and encourage you to continue your exercise routine.

Importance of social connections for mental well-being

How can we live a happy life? An interesting topic that has prompted researchers to study it for decades. They found that strong social connections are linked with a better immune system, better chance of longevity, less inflammation, and recovery from diseases quickly. They found that only exercising is not enough for mental well-being. Yes, exercise gives some respite from depression or anxiety, but loneliness or isolation has also a damaging impact on mental health. Meaningful interaction with family members, neighbors, and friends causes the release of feel-good hormone oxytocin. Without social connections, the release of oxytocin is impossible.

How Exercise Provides Opportunities for Social Interaction

No one will dispute that now peoples life is busier than ever. Social media allows a large number of people to connect with each other virtually, it is also responsible for reducing real-life interaction. Exercise is the opposite of social media. Exercises like park runs, group walks, and group exercises allow people to come closer together, share their thoughts,, and work together to achieve fitness goals. Exercises enhance social interaction and reduce loneliness which is damaging for mental well-being.

Besides health and mental benefits, exercise is fun and refreshing. There are no shortages of exercises, from simple to complex. The best move is to start a simple exercise even if it means a brisk walk for 10 minutes, the simple good effect of this exercise will certainly inspire you to engage in more challenging exercises.

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