External appearance may be many people’s fundamental motivation when it comes to exercise. What can’t be underestimated however is the power that exercise has on improving how it makes you feel on the inside. Exercising regularly can contribute to an immense sense of emotional happiness and wellbeing. To find out more about how, read our Top 5 Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health!
1. Release of endorphins
Endorphins are your body’s natural painkillers. These chemicals are produced in your brain and can create feelings of happiness and a greater state of wellbeing, commonly known as ‘runners high’. Research shows that physical activity can alleviate symptoms of mild to moderate depression and anxiety, and exercise is being significantly more recommended as treatment by many doctors, more frequently. Regular exercise is suggested to help you gain a more positive outlook on life, boost energy levels and improve sleep. Have you ever met someone who was fit, healthy and active to be at the same time depressed? Unlikely!
Exercise offers great opportunities to meet new people and to share experiences. Whether it’s joining a running club, Zumba group or sports league, exercising with others carries a number of added benefits. Encouragement from (or competition with) others will boost your motivation to exercise and heighten your enjoyment and desire to achieve your physical goals. Many exercises and sports clubs also host social events so you can get to know people away from the track, pool or pitch!
3. Improves self-esteem
At any level, the internal and external benefits of exercise can boost your self-esteem and create a positive self-image. Whether through losing weight or toning up, feeling better about your appearance can help to foster your sense of self-worth. By setting and achieving exercise targets, you will feel a great sense of achievement, which carries with it, a knock-on effect of boosting your confidence to try new things in all walks of life!
4. Improves cognitive ability
As you age, certain cognitive functions such as memory, concentration, attention and problem-solving can start to decline. Regular exercise contributes to keeping you mentally strong by stimulating the growth of new brain cells. Evidence suggests that hormones released during endurance exercise improves cognition and protects your brain against degeneration and that physical activity is a major factor in the prevention of dementia later in life.
5. Using the great outdoors!
Exercising outdoors can leave you feeling revitalised and energetic whilst relieving tension or anger. Varied scenery provides sensory stimulation and helps prevent boredom, promoting feelings of appreciation, relaxation whilst encouraging longer, more frequent exercising. Increased oxygen levels also promote the release of serotonin, a feel-good chemical, therefore choosing an outdoor workout is likely to do wonders for your mood. Additionally, the terrain and conditions of outdoor activity will be more challenging resulting in an increase in the number of calories you burn!
Whatever your sport, passion or discipline, exercise is wonderful for your mind, body and soul! Research shows that 70 million workdays are lost each year due to mental health conditions with exercise being more regularly recommended as a treatment for a number of these ameliorable issues. There is no better reason to get moving than to keep your brain and heart healthy, feeling better about yourself and improving your outlook on life! How has exercise affected your mind? Let us know below, or on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!