Exercise has long been used as a means to keep our physical health optimum. It affects our cardiovascular health, keeps our joints lubricated, protects us from many illnesses by keeping our weight under control, and positively impacts our overall well-being.
Apart from providing all of these physical benefits, exercise also has a flourishing effect on our mental health and wellness. People who exercise regularly and keep fit are more energetic, less stressed, and have a more positive outlook on life.
Here are the top 5 mental health benefits that regular exercise can offer.
1. Exercise Reduces Depression & Anxiety
Studies have shown that even mild to moderate-intensity exercise is associated with reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety. The exercise shows a similar effect on depression as the anti-depressants. There is more than one way that physical activity helps fight depression.
First, exercise is associated with the release of endorphins which are the body’s natural feel-good hormones. Secondly, exercise promotes positive neural changes in the brain, like reducing inflammation and promoting new neuronal connections. Exercise also acts as a distractor and takes one’s mind away from stress and worries.
2. Exercise Helps Treat ADHD
Exercise has shown to be exponentially effective in treating the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity helps build memory, boost mood, improve concentration, and enhance motivation. In addition, more extended periods of exercise especially cardio are known to treat the symptoms of ADHD in children.
3. Exercise Prevents Dementia
Dementia and cognitive impairment are significant mental health issues in the older population. With the medical advancements, the average life expectancy has increased, resulting in more people with memory loss. Exercise has shown to be effective in protecting the brain against the degenerative changes resulting from aging and preventing or delaying the symptoms of dementia. Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly have 20 to 30% fewer chances of getting dementia.
4. Exercise Boosts Self-Esteem
There is a never-ending list of physical benefits of exercise. Maintaining a healthy weight, building a more appealing body, getting stronger, and improving strength and agility all come with a regular, well-tailored exercise program. All these changes ultimately make you feel more confident about yourself and boost your self-esteem. These effects are similar in adults and kids and men and women alike.
5. Exercise Improves Sleep
Sufficient, sound, and regular sleep is essential to our overall health. Irregular or disturbed sleep can hurt our mental health. It can make us sluggish and compromise our attention and focus. Exercise can help you sleep better and reset your circadian rhythm or internal clock system, which is vital in the regular sleep cycle. However, it is recommended not to exercise closer to bedtime.
Exercise is an easy and inexpensive way of protecting our mental health, and it does not contain side effects like medication. Doing mild to moderate daily exercise can help prevent and treat many mental illnesses and improve your quality of life.