Can Mental Health Be Improved With Exercise? Yes!

Scrabble tiles spelling "mental health".

There are plenty of good reasons to get regular exercise. While some folks work out to improve their cardiovascular health, others exercise to build muscle or sculpt their ideal body. But did you know that exercise can benefit your body in ways beyond just your physical shape? Proper exercise can have a significant impact on your mental health and can help significantly improve symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety. The emotional benefits of exercise are manifold.  Following are six simple ways exercise can dramatically change your mental health for the better.

Relieves Stress

Woman in a sauna.

A difficult day at work, a failed exam, a cranky toddler—each day of our lives is accompanied by stress. Stress at home, stress at work, it can seem nearly impossible to escape. And when left unchecked, stress can lead to high blood pressure or heart disease. Stress is an inevitable fact of life, but that doesn’t mean it’s unmanageable. In fact, stress can be greatly reduced when you introduce regular exercise into your routine. Exercise increases the brain’s concentration of norepinephrine, a chemical that manages the body’s response to stress. In other words, working up a sweat boosts your body’s ability to react to stress in a healthy, constructive way.

Boosts Your Mood

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Ever notice after an intense workout that your body is buzzing with feelings of happiness and euphoria? That’s because exercise triggers the release of endorphins in the brain, giving you an immediate, healthy high. Do your days tend to start on a sour note? Start incorporating exercise into your morning ritual, and you’re sure to notice a difference. Not only will you begin the day with all the energy you need, you’ll also be in an awesome mood.

Improves Self Confidence

Fitness is as much about feeling good as it is looking good. No matter what you weigh, when you’re confident about the way you look, your self-esteem improves by leaps and bounds. Even if you’ve only just started, your confidence will grow with each milestone you reach. Whether it’s a slimmer waistline you desire, your self-image can only be strengthened when you achieve your goals.

Strengthens Memory

Sketch of human brain.

There’s nothing worse than misplacing your keys, or forgetting to pay an important bill. As we age, keeping track of all the trivial things becomes increasingly difficult. Luckily, exercise is excellent for improving memory. An intense workout session results in increased cell production in the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for memory and information retention. Some studies have even linked early childhood brain development with physical activity levels.

Reduces Anxiety & Depression

Seeking relief from anxiety or depression? Exercise may be your answer! Adopting a fitness routine can result in a number of changes to the brain, such as reduced inflammation and altered activity patterns. A quick workout is a great way for those with anxiety or depression to release any inner turmoil and channel those emotions in a positive manner. When you break the cycle of negative thoughts and feelings, you’re free to focus on more important things, like spending time with family or participating in activities you enjoy.

Helps Manage Addiction

Cigarette broken in half.

You’ve likely heard of dopamine, better known as the “reward chemical,” released in the brain as a response to pleasure. Sex, drugs, alcohol, and food are some of the most common triggers of dopamine, which is why these activities can feel addicting. Exercise is another known trigger of dopamine, and can actually act as a distractor for anyone battling addiction. Just like craving a drink, or a puff from a cigarette, you can essentially retrain your body to crave exercise instead. And unlike drugs or alcohol, exercise is safe, and does the body plenty of good.

Maximize Your Health with the Help of Leo’s Fitness Lab

Wondering how you can get a great workout without spending hours at the gym? Then you’ll love Leo’s Fitness Lab, San Diego’s most high-tech fitness facility! Leo’s Fitness Lab boasts an array of impressive technology that allows you to achieve optimal results with only two, 20-minute sessions per week. It doesn’t get much easier than that! And with our state-of-the-art body composition assessment, you can actually see how your hard work is paying off with real results. What’re you waiting for? Visit us today, or call to schedule your free introductory workout!