When you first start working out, dragging yourself to the gym might feel like pulling teeth. But after a while, you might begin to notice yourself smiling and skipping, both into and out of the gym. Have you ever wondered why this might be? Well as it turns out, there’s a direct correlation between exercise and your mental well-being. Here's how exercise can give your mental health a boost.
It Helps Manage Stress and Allows You to Relax
Studies have shown that exercise improves your ability to manage stressful situations and can help to make you feel less anxious overall. Also referred to as “post exercise euphoria,” one exercise session results in 90 to 120 minutes of greater relaxation. Neurotransmitter responses that occur during and after exercise, including a release of endorphins, leave you feeling relaxed, improve your mood and can even help you sleep at night. In fact, exercise is now being prescribed in clinical settings to patients suffering from nervous tension. It seems that a morning run or an afternoon bike ride goes a lot further than you originally thought.
It Assists in Alleviating Depression
Physical exercise activates neurotransmitters or happy chemicals, like endorphins, which boost your mood and can help alleviate depression. In some cases, exercise can be just as effective as medically treating anxiety or depression. Getting your heart rate up via some healthy exercise is the perfect way to get your happy buzz and is also effective at battling seasonal depression during those long winter months.
It Can Prevent Cognitive Decline
Has your memory been on the fritz lately? Do you worry that your mind is slipping as you age? Well, studies have shown that exercise can help prevent cognitive decline and the overall “haziness” connected with aging. Chemicals that are boosted during exercise support the health of the brain and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, a key part of your brain that aids in memory and learning.
It Will Boost Your Smarts
While you might not become an overnight Albert Einstein by hitting the gym a few times, exercise can create new brain cells and improve the overall performance of your brain. It is believed that cardiovascular exercise increases levels of brain-derived protein, which is linked with decision making, higher thinking and learning.
It Makes Creativity Blossom
For up to two hours after an intense workout, you may discover an increase in your creativity. You can get the most of these post-workout creative breakthroughs by exercising outdoors to boost inspiration. Looking to find the answer to a pressing question in your life? Hit the ground running (literally)!
If exercising on the regular isn’t a part of your routine just yet, don’t be discouraged when going to the gym the first few times turns out to be a bit of a trudge. Before you know it, you’ll be experiencing a happier mood, a more relaxed state and a world of creativity—all while toning your body and improving your health! Can you say win-win-win?