For most people, exercising regularly is a way of improving their body, whether it’s for losing weight or building strength and stamina. But there are a number of surprising mental benefits that are associated with daily exercise. The human body is designed to be physically active as possible and getting into a regime of regular exercise can offer a broad range of advantages for the brain.
Here we will look at some of the most common benefits that are associated with exercise for mental health.
Reduction in Stress Levels
Stress has never been more prevalent, with people working more hours, living costs on the increase, and a collective fear of what may come in the next few decades. Stress is also one of the leading causes of disease in the world, with a strong link to cardiovascular disease in particular. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress in the body; in fact, it’s been shown that regular exercise can even decrease the brain damage that we accrue from being too stressed for too long.
Sleep is a vital process that the human body requires every day in order to maintain optimum health. It’s also something that’s often lacking, with sleep deprivation on the rise across the world. Those that suffer from severe sleep deprivation may begin to experience loss in their cognitive abilities, as well as difficulty concentrating on work and their personal lives.
When we exercise, we exhaust our body, forcing it to become tired at night and attain better sleep. While exercise is good for sleep, it should be noted that it’s best to avoid exercising too close to bedtime, as this can elevate our heart rate and make it more difficult for the body to drift away.
Management of Depression
Much like stress, depression is on a sharp increase across the world, and it’s a disease that can truly tear apart a person’s life in a short amount of time. Depression can be extremely difficult to manage, depending on the severity, and exercise has been shown to help with the management of depression.
Exercise can help the brain synthesize endorphins, which are chemicals that increase our mood. Many of those suffering with depression don’t produce these chemicals in adequate quantities and it can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. Even moderate exercise at least three times a week can aid the brain in producing the right chemicals at the right time.
A sedentary lifestyle coupled with an unhealthy diet causes a range of problems for the mind and body. One aspect of a person’s mind that may begin to falter as they follow an unhealthy lifestyle is the slow loss of their memory. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re developing a disorder like Alzheimer’s, but rather just a decline in the ability to remember details.
Exercise can help improve memory significantly, partly due to the better flow of oxygenated blood to the brain from the activity.