by Eric Silver
Many people often find themselves in a slump, feeling depressed, unhappy, unmotivated, anxious, and stressed. When this is the case, a lot of people turn to therapy or even prescription medication to get them out of their slump.
Sadly, these things are not always necessary. In many cases, a lot of these people find that they’re simply not using their bodies enough!
The human body is highly adaptable to circumstance. This can be seen in a physical sense: when someone works out a lot, they get bigger and stronger, and they have more energy. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true: when we don’t exercise, energy grows stagnant in the body and can lead to lack of motivation.
This can lead to things like depression and anxiety. In this article, we’re going to talk about how various types of exercise can be useful for helping to bring about positive changes in your mental health.
How Exercise Can Improve Mental Health
Many people are already aware of the immense physical benefits of exercise. It is great for helping to enhance energy levels, to build muscle, improve cardiovascular health and longevity, and generally to make people feel good.
But what some people don’t know is that a good part of that ‘feeling good’ comes from significant changes in our mental health and brain chemistry that occur when people exercise. These are some of the best benefits for your mental health that you could experience from exercising.
Improved Self-Esteem and Confidence
One of the biggest reasons that people lack self-esteem and confidence is because they are not confident with their bodies. They may believe themselves to be too large or too thin, or simply not to be strong enough. This can lead to depression, social isolation, difficulty forming relationships, etc.
One of the quickest and most effective solutions to these problems is exercise. Exercise allows you to get your body into the shape that you want it to be, and in doing this, you will become stronger and more athletic. Being physically capable is a great way to develop self-esteem, and having a toned body makes many people more confident.
Reduced Stress and Anxiety
Exercise is also known to help reduce stress and anxiety, through a number of different ways.
One of the most interesting phenomena is known as the runner’s high. This occurs when the body is exerted for an extended period of time. When this happens, the body releases endorphins – hormones that are released to make us feel pleasure and relaxation.
The runner’s high is often enough to reduce stress and anxiety, but the benefits continue. Getting regular exercise also helps to ensure that the brain’s neurotransmitter systems function properly.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that create reactions in our nervous system and brain. Many of them are involved in mental health functions, such as regulating our mood, happiness, and motivation. By exercising regularly, we ensure that these neurotransmitter systems stay in top shape.
Improved Cognitive Health
Exercise doesn’t just enhance mental/emotional health, but it can improve our cognitive abilities too. Exercise can lead to increased blood flow to the brain, which allows the brain to receive more oxygen. The brain uses fuel for oxygen, and because of this, it’s able to function more effectively.
People who exercise frequently are known to be able to think ‘better’. They often score better on tests of intelligence and are able to maintain focus for extended periods of time. These factors can combine to improve self-esteem and confidence in academic pursuits, and can also enhance conversation skills.
There’s no doubt that exercise is great for the body, but it’s also great for the brain. This article explains how exercise can benefit mental health and improve self-esteem, confidence, and cognition.
Eric Silver serves on both our writing and editing teams at E-Counseling.com. Eric has developed a personal passion for spreading mental health awareness since becoming caretaker for a close family member battling severe depression nearly 20 years ago. He’s researched and written extensively on mental health, with a focus on depression and anxiety. Eric’s work has been published on therapy and depression blogs all across the web.