If you think exercise is only beneficial for your physical health, think again. There is a lot more to it. Exercise also assists in improving your mental health. How? Let's dive into it.
Mechanism of Exercise on Your Mental Health
Firstly, exercise can improve oxygen saturation within the body. Improved oxygen supply in the brain can assist with the generation of new brain cells, which may aid the prevention of memory loss, mental fatigue, and loss of cognitive function. When you exercise, you increase endorphins and serotonin levels within your body, which are known as the ‘feel good’ hormones, promoting an increase in mood and positive feelings. Low intensity exercise can also decrease the level of cortisol hormone in your body, which is a hormone related to stress and anxious type feelings.
Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health
As you can see there are different mechanisms involved in improving your mental health by way of exercise. Some of the benefits of exercise on mental health include, but are not limited to:
REDUCED RISK OF DEPRESSION
Harvard University suggests that exercise may be helpful in treating mild to moderate depression, just like an effective medication, only without the side effects. Running for just 15 minutes a day or walking for 60 minutes a day alleviates the overall risk of getting major depression by 26 percent in individuals. Not only that, but studies also indicate that exercise, when done regularly, significantly saves you from relapsing.
IMPROVEMENT OF COGNITIVE FUNCTION
There is a vast amount of scientific evidence which correlates an improvement of cognitive function to exercise. For example, cardio type exercise helps in the process of neurogenesis, which is involved in the formation of new brain cells. Also, doing physical activities regularly help in improving your mental performance. It also helps in the prevention of cognitive decline as well as memory loss by improving the function of the hippocampus. This is considered a part of your brain responsible for learning and memory. Research also shows that physical activity helps in boosting your mental energy and creativity. Therefore, if you need some inspiration, you might want to take a walk in the park.
IMPROVEMENT OF SOCIAL HEALTH
Those people who do regular exercise often report a better social life. That is for two reasons:
- They may feel more confident about themselves and don’t hesitate to meet new people and form connections.
- They may go to a gym or a community club to exercise, which provides them with the platform to socialize.
Exercise can play a variety of positive roles in influencing your self-esteem and confidence. You may see a significant increase in your self-esteem as your body composition begins to change or your strength/stamina improves.
MAY IMPROVE ADHD SYMPTOMS
Exercise helps in the improvement of the symptoms related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It might improve motor skills as well as executive cognitive function for pediatric patients with ADHD. It may seem to apply to both vigorous and moderate level exercise. Being physically active for a prolonged time might lead towards improved results. In addition, cardio exercise is apparently proven to be more beneficial for adults and children having symptoms of ADHD.
DECREASE IN STRESS
Physical activity may be associated with decreased functional reactivity to mental stress. In simple words, those individuals who do more physical activity might become less reactive to daily stressors.
MAY IMPROVE PTSD SYMPTOMS
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is associated with painful recurrences of feelings concerning traumatic events in the past of an individual. People having PTSD might find physical activity to be helpful for them, especially those individuals who have struggled previously with the subthreshold PTSD and treatments. Exercise might also help in improving PTSD symptoms such as anxiety, depression, cardio issues, and sleep problems in individuals.