Exercise and Mental Health
It’s a proven fact that working out releases chemicals in your brain called endorphins. Endorphins can reduce your perception of pain and also trigger a positive feeling in your body. Working out can help your body and mind in many ways. It can improve your mood, help fight off stress, increase your energy, and can even help with brain health and memory! Whether you like to work out at a gym, at home, in a yoga studio, or by playing a sport, exercising can consistently do wonders for your mental health.
Personally, the gym is my favorite place to go to release any stress or anxieties I have in my life. I’ve always been athletic; from playing softball most of my life, to continuing my exercise journey at CrossFit. I always leave the gym feeling better than I felt when I woke up. A sense of accomplishment after completing a vigorous workout releases so many endorphins in my brain, and I can’t help but feel proud of myself. Though the gym has always been an excellent way for me to relieve stress, I also struggle with constantly being in competition with myself. Yes, healthy competition is good, however, if I go to the gym and I don’t complete the workout in the time I wanted to or I don’t do as well as I thought I would, I tend to get upset and angry with myself. I would feel like I failed at a workout, or that I’m not strong enough. Most of the time, these feelings encourage me to work better the next day, but sometimes it puts me in a bad mood, and I leave the gym feeling worse than I did before the workout. However, despite the constant need to do better every day that I struggle with, I do feel all of the positive effects of exercising both physically and emotionally. Seeing the visual progress I make makes me proud and motivates me to keep working. I notice that on days I go to the gym I feel happier, I sleep better, and I have more energy. When I opt out of going to the gym, I notice my mood is lower, I’m more irritable, and I lack self-confidence. Going to the gym on a consistent basis gives me something to look forward to every day, thus giving me more reasons to get out of bed,rather than staying in bed all day.
Physically, consistently exercising helps control weight. Whether your goal is to gain muscle mass and gain weight or to lose weight, finding a regimen that works for you can help you reach your goals. Exercising can also help prevent or manage many health problems, including high blood pressure, arthritis, anxiety, depression, and more. Exercising can even help skin health by stimulating blood flow and providing antioxidant protection, which can both protect your skin and delay signs of aging.
Though exercising has many positive benefits, there are some adverse effects of exercising as well. While working out for one hour a day improves your heart and reduces the risk of obesity, working out for more than an hour a day can do the opposite. Exercising too much can also weaken your immune system because your body becomes too exhausted and can’t fight off illnesses. Insomnia can also occur from over-exercising, especially if you’re doing heavy workouts close to bedtime.
Don’t let the negative effects of exercising scare you or let them prevent you from working out, though. Keeping a consistent and healthy workout schedule can help prevent the negative effects and you’ll experience more of the positive effects that come with exercising. When you find a routine that works for you and that will help you achieve your fitness goals, you should find that your mood is elevated, you won’t be as stressed, and your sleep might improve too.
Sleep is also something that plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of exercise and your mental health. A lack of sleep can affect your diet and eating habits as well as how you exercise. Getting a good night’s rest is critical to the recovery process, as while you’re resting, your body is building up muscle. Not having a good night’s sleep can result in low energy levels, which leads to a less energized workout, thus preventing you from experiencing all of the positive benefits of exercise – both physically and mentally. Getting plenty of rest can help regulate your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduce stress, manage your appetite, and increase your energy as well.
It’s easy to see that there are many more benefits to exercise than there are risks and how much exercising can help improve your mental health. I find that exercising makes me feel better about myself physically and also helps improve my mood. Exercising can come in many forms. You can go on walks or runs, play a sport, lift weights, spend time in a gym, do yoga, and so much more. You can even find workouts to do in the comfort of your own home. Though exercise won’t completely cure depression or anxiety, it can help manage the symptoms or alleviate them for a short time. Challenge yourself to do a light workout twice a week and then gradually increase until you’re in a comfortable and consistent routine. Remember to listen to your body, and not to overwork yourself and you’ll be sure to find plenty of improvements in both your physical and mental health.