Most of us know why it is important to exercise- it improves your health, it can aid in prevention of diseases, and it can help in weight loss. But did you know it can do a substantial amount of good for your mental health too? Below are 5 reasons that exercise can improve your mental health.
1. Exercise improves your mood
Moderate amounts of exercise have been shown to have both short-term and long-term effects on depression. As little as 10 minutes per day of low intensity exercise (i.e., breathing heavier than normal and feeling a little warmer without working up a full sweat) has been show to have an effect on mood. However, the Association for Applied Sport Psychology recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 3 times per week to see long-term benefits. Some research suggests this may be because exercise releases increased levels of a neurotransmitter called serotonin.
2. Exercise improves your self-esteem
A lot of people begin to see improved self-esteem with continued exercise. They begin to develop a sense of accomplishment and pride in their achievements. Make sure to set reasonable goals for your self during your exercise endeavors and watch how you will soon begin to do more than you ever thought possible! Also, with exercise there is bound to be some changes in your body image which will have a significant impact on your self-esteem.
3. Exercise improves your sleep pattern
Regular exercise will likely improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Your body will be ready for a good night's sleep when you increase your levels of activity. However, you need to make sure you do not exercise to close to bedtime or you might run into
difficulty getting to sleep!
4. Exercise improves your ability to deal with stress
Not only will exercise help reduce stress, but it will also improve your ability to deal with stress! You will begin to learn the signs of stress (e.g., muscle tension, fatigue, increased heart rate) and be able to channel your energy into a stress relieving activity such as exercise.
5. Exercise boosts your energy levels
Regularly exercising will help increase your stamina for everyday tasks and will help your body run more efficiently (thus expending less energy). You may also notice you have an energized feeling after engaging in physical activity.
HOW TO START:
Start with an activity that makes sense for you such as a walk around the neighborhood, a yoga class, doing laps in your pool, or maybe dusting off that tennis racket you have lying around in the garage to go play a few rounds. It is absolutely not necessary to join a gym or spend a lot of money to reap the benefits of exercise. Over time you will discover what types of physical activities you find enjoyable and from there you can begin to set goals for yourself. Just make sure to keep moving!!
As with the start of any new activities, please make sure to check in with your doctor before you begin, especially if you have any chronic health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, or chronic pain.