29 Mar The Secret Benefit of Exercise
There are many physical benefits to exercise – improved cardiovascular functioning, growth of lean muscle mass, and increased lifespan. However, one of the most important benefits to exercise is often overlooked. Exercise is one of the most effective and stimulating ways to improve your mental health. Even modest amounts of exercise are proven to relieve stress and boost overall mood. Regular exercise also has a positive and definitive impact against depression, anxiety, stress, ADHD, and the typical challenges life brings.
Improvements in mood associated with exercise are a hypothesized effect of increased blood circulation to the brain and hormones released by the body. Exercise has helped alleviate low self-esteem and social withdrawal, along with reducing anxiety and depression. Most dramatically, exercise allows individuals to improve sleep patterns, have increased energy throughout the day, and stress relief. Learn more here.
Exercise promotes changes in the brain by creating new activity patterns and neural growth. Increases in serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine associated with exercise increase focus and attention – improving motivation, concentration, and memory. Physical tension caused by stress can be relieved through the intense engagement and then relaxation of your muscles. Most notably, exercise increases overall wellbeing through the release of endorphins.
So next time you’re feeling down and considering skipping out on exercise for the day, Michael Otto, PhD encourages you to exercise anyway to experience the exercise effect. “Many people skip the workout at the very time it has the greatest payoff. That prevents you from noticing just how much better you feel when you exercise. Failing to exercise when you feel bad is like explicitly not taking an aspirin when your head hurts. That’s the time you get the payoff.” Michael Otto, PhD is a professor of psychology and researcher at Boston University.
Next time you hit the exercise slump, think about the positive effects that regular exercise gives you –let that motivate you to a more mindful, stress-free, and healthy future.