Anyone can name the many ways exercise can improve physical health, but many aren’t aware that getting physical can also have very beneficial effects on your brain. Whether you’re looking to augment professional treatment, or just give a boost to your mental health, here are some ways exercise can play a key role.
When you get moving, your body releases a powerful rush of hormones called endorphins. You’ll experience a mild wave of elation, which helps to counter depression, and you’ll find a source of energy that depression may normally chase away. Exercise also stimulates neural growth and reduces inflammation.
Additionally, by implementing — and sticking with — an exercise schedule, studies have shown long-term benefits in the fight against depression. Not only will you feel these physiological effects regularly, but by following a workout schedule, you can help fight feelings of hopelessness or loss of control. It’s a win from every angle.
Stress can take a nasty toll on your body, leaving you tense, sore and fatigued. These physical symptoms can, in turn, lead to more stress.
Break this cycle by implementing an exercise regime into your schedule. The endorphins released help to alleviate the stress, and the physical movement will work the tense feelings from your muscles. Together, it’s natural medicine that can quickly help manage stress in your life.
Find some calm through physical activity. By focusing on your body’s motions, you’re able to free your mind from its focus on worries, a process often referred to as mindfulness.
Try something repetitive, like swimming or jogging. You might also try a yoga class and let yourself focus on each movement. By giving your brain something beneficial to dwell on, you’ll give it a reprieve from being mired in feelings of anxiety.
For many suffering from behavioral health issues, they find themselves increasingly withdrawn. Studies show that exercising in groups, and encouraging social interaction in a positive environment, provides real help in overcoming these issues.
Support from peers, whether friends or strangers, can do wonders for helping open lines of communication and feeling connected with others.
Fighting depression and stress can lead to an interrupted sleep schedule, which deprives your brain of its ability to heal and recover. By perpetuating this cycle, you can trigger an increase in mental health problems.
However, by exercising regularly, you’ll encourage your body to sleep better, helping push you past thoughts that would otherwise keep you awake. And by making this a routine, you can see a noticeable reprieve from symptoms.
Add Exercise to Your Daily Routine
Exercise provides so many benefits to your mental health, there’s no good reason not to make it part of your plan for self-care. If you’re struggling with motivation to begin, find someone who will join you and push you. Sign up for a class and make every effort to attend it. You’ll soon be able to let these efforts snowball into a healthy way to do great things for your body, as well as your brain.
Clinical Director October has been a Registered Nurse for over 15 years. She is board certified in Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She also graduated with bachelor and master degrees in Nursing from Western Governors University.