You already know that exercise is good for your body, but did you also know that exercise is good for your mind too?
As well as improving your physical health, regular exercise also has many incredible benefits for your mental health. Such as relieving stress, improving memory and sleep, boosting your mood and self-esteem, and even has a positive impact on anxiety and depression.
‘Runner’s High’ – The Science Behind It
When we exercise, our bodies release chemicals called endorphins which trigger a positive response, also known as ‘Runner’s High,’ which refers to that awesome ‘high’ feeling we experience after aerobic exercise. Ever felt like you’re able to take on the world after a morning run? Yep, that explains it.
Endorphins are chemical messengers that help to relieve feelings of stress or pain. However, endorphins aren’t the only mood-boosting chemicals released during exercise. Other chemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are also released, which all play a significant role in regulating your mood, so more exercise = a happier you!
Exercise, Stress, and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety affect us in many different ways, and although they affect us mentally, they can also affect us physically. Have you ever been so stressed that you can actually feel the tension and stiffness in your neck and shoulders? Or maybe you’ve felt so anxious about something that your chest feels tight? These are all symptoms of anxiety and stress, and sometimes a good workout can be just what you need to feel calm and relaxed again!
So how can exercise help us to feel calm? Well, regular exercise helps balance your body’s level of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. When we exercise, we usually experience a rush of adrenaline which triggers the release of endorphins. These endorphins work by temporarily producing a positive response within the brain, helping to relieve the effects of stress. Not only that, but working out also gives your brain something to focus on instead of what’s causing you to worry, so it can be a good way of coping when you’re feeling stressed or anxious.
Exercise and Self Esteem
Aside from producing feel-good chemicals in our brains, regular exercise also positively impacts our self-esteem and confidence. Naturally, the more you work out and stay consistent with it, the better you will look and feel. As you start to see the results of a good workout routine kick in, the better you’ll feel about how you look. This will lead to you being more confident in your own skin, and you’ll gain a higher sense of self-esteem!
Other benefits of exercise on mental health
Exercise is a great way to socialize with other people and make new friends, and there are so many ways to do it! You could join a gym, a running club, or attend weekly classes where you have the opportunity to meet new people and bond over your love for fitness! Classes can also be a great starting point if you’re a beginner starting to exercise or you’re just feeling anxious about going to the gym on your own. There will almost definitely be others there who feel the same as you!
Additionally, exercise is a great way to distract us from the daily struggles and worries in our lives, which is why it’s important to take even just half an hour per day to exercise so you can just forget about it all and focus on yourself! Whether it be a run, a gym session, a yoga class, or even just a walk in the fresh air, you’d be surprised at how much better you’ll feel afterward!
Getting Into a Routine
There are so many benefits to having a good, consistent routine both mentally and physically. Perhaps you might wake up at 6 am, go for a 30-minute run, have your protein shake and morning coffee, then head to work ready to take on the day! Or maybe you’re just not a morning person and prefer to get your daily exercise later on in the evening to unwind after a day at work. Regardless, it’s important to set goals for your routine on a daily basis.
According to this article from North-Western Medicine, not having a routine can actually lead to increased stress levels, sleep problems, and a poor diet. All of these combined could make life a little chaotic. Therefore highlighting why it’s crucial to have a good routine as minimal stress, more sleep, and a good diet will not only make you feel happier and more energized, but it will also make you feel more motivated through achieving these small daily goals! It could literally be as simple as setting the alarm a little earlier so you can work out, fuel your body with a nutritious breakfast and set yourself up for a successful day!
If you need some tips, check out our blog on how to master the ultimate morning routine!
In order to keep your mind and body healthy, it’s generally recommended that you do some form of exercise every day. This doesn’t mean going to the gym every day and spending hours lifting heavy weights; it can literally be anything from a yoga flow, a jog in the park, or a quick HIIT circuit! Even a brisk 30-minute walk in the fresh air is enough to burn some calories while giving your mind a little reset. Whatever you do, just be sure to take some time for yourself each day and get your body moving!
Why not boost those endorphins with this quick, sweaty full-body cardio circuit from Julie Jaid below?
- Jump squat / broad jump to sprawl (45 seconds)
- In & out squats (30 seconds)
- 4 Mountain Climbers / 2 Plank Jacks / 1 push-up / 2 shoulder taps (60 seconds)
- Jab, cross, 2 uppercuts/ 2 squats (45 seconds)
- 2 Jumping jacks/inchworm/push-ups (60 seconds)
Complete this circuit 4 times.