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Exercise for Mental Health: Boosting Mood and Well-being

In most cases, people tend to associate exercising with physical fitness and body composition. While exercising is a great way to maintain a healthy body weight, it also has many great effects on your mood and overall mental health.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Regular exercise and daily movement offers many benefits for your mental wellness, including enhancing mood, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, and so much more.

Explore how incorporating exercise into your routine can help boost your mental health and wellness.

Releases Endorphins for Mood Enhancement

Incorporating regular physical activity into your routine can help encourage the brain to produce more endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters often associated with positive feelings, produced in the brain's pituitary gland.

When a person exercises, one may experience an improved mood as a result of this endorphin production. If you've ever heard of the popular "runner's high", this is said to be associated with the release of endorphins.

Endorphins are not the only chemical produced in the brain during exercise. Exercising also triggers the brain to release other substances such as serotonin and endocannabinoid, which help improve your mood. The release of these hormones can leave you with an improved mood both during and after exercise.

Reduces Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression

Individuals who experience symptoms of anxiety or depression may also benefit from regular exercise. Studies suggest that regular exercise can help reduce cortisol levels, a hormone responsible for causing physical and emotional stress.

Another way exercise can help reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression is by increasing blood flow to the brain. This can help promote neuroplasticity an important component of brain regrowth and cellular regeneration which allows the hippocampus of the brain to grow. It has been found that this portion of the brain may be smaller in people with depression.

Exercise can also help anxiety and depression simply by providing a distraction from negative thoughts. Individuals experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety may enjoy a healthy distraction, while also using exercise as a way to foster new connections. Given that isolation is a common symptom of depression, participating in group exercise classes or working out with a buddy may help combat these symptoms.

Improves Sleep Quality and Stress Management

High-quality sleep is an important component of your overall health, wellness, and mood. As you sleep, your body has a chance to recover, repair, and grow stronger from your workouts. Since exercise may produce euphoria as a result of endorphins, you won't want to workout too close to the time you plan to go to bed. It is a good idea to complete your exercise routine at least one to two hours before going to bed.

One research study found that participants who performed high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts noted improved sleep quality and sleep duration. Furthermore, regular high-intensity exercise can also make it easier to fall asleep, which may be helpful for people who suffer from insomnia or other sleep conditions.

By challenging your body through an intense workout, you'll be tired out in time for restful sleep. In addition to improved sleep quality, exercise can help prevent excessive daytime sleepiness.

Sleep quality and a person's stress levels are closely correlated. When a person is stressed and is producing high levels of cortisol, this can impact sleep quality and the ability to fall asleep. As such, the stress-reducing effects of exercise (lowered cortisol levels) can also have a profound impact on your sleep quality.

Although high-intensity exercise can be helpful to promote good sleep for someone people, others may benefit from lower-intensity exercise. High-intensity workouts may cause an increase in Cortisol for people who are already significantly stressed. On the other hand, lower-intensity aerobic exercises, such as walking, might be a smarter choice for those experiencing high levels of stress.

Boosts Self-Confidence and Body Image

Regular exercise provides a physical challenge, providing opportunities to grow and get stronger. Over time, this exercise can help boost self-confidence and promote positive body image.

Not only does exercise make you feel better and more confident, but you also gain a sense of accomplishment as you strive to achieve new goals. In turn, those who develop a healthy workout routine find that over time, their overall self-confidence and body image have improved.

Try Movement for an Improved Mood

Exercise not only benefits your physical body composition but also has a great impact on your mental health and well-being. With regular exercise, you may experience an improved mood from the increased release of endorphins and the production of other feel-good hormones. In addition, studies also suggest that exercise can be helpful for managing stress and reducing symptoms of anxiety.

Those experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression may also benefit from exercise, offering a healthy distraction and helping to boost self-confidence and body image.

Finding new ways to stick to a regular exercise routine can help you experience the mood and well-being benefits of exercise for yourself. To stay in the know with the newest health and lifestyle tips to support you on your wellness journey, read more on the ActiveFit+ blog.


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