5 Ways Fitness Positively Impacts Your Mental Health
Physical fitness is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Exercise helps muscle growth, the heart, and will keep fat levels within a healthy parameter. But, not a lot of people know that physical fitness has great positive impacts on one’s mental health. Exercising can do amazing things to improve various aspects of one’s cognitive, behavioral, and emotional health. Here are five ways fitness positively impacts mental health.
Stress can come from many variables. Work, financial insecurities, interpersonal relationship issues, or other aspects of one’s life can make a person feel very stressed. Stress can cause many physical reactions. Muscles can become quite tense leading to pain in various areas like in the neck or shoulder or even the face. Bad stress can also cause headaches and lead to digestive system issues.
What can exercise do? When one exercises, the brain releases numerous chemicals called endorphins. The endorphins will actually relax those tense muscles and ease aspects of the digestive system. Once a person’s muscular and digestive systems feel more relaxed, a person may feel physically better. That physical improvement can feedback loop and improve the emotional health of the individual.
Anxiety is another complex mental state. With anxiety, the intense feeling of unease can stop a person from enjoying day-to-day activities. Relaxing can be a good way to get one’s anxiety issues to calm, but exercising has an incredible way of relieving those symptoms of anxiety. Exercising has a way of helping a person meditate by focusing their tasks on exercising itself. Along with the release of endorphins and proper oxygen and blood blow across the body, exercise helps to bring the body toward a more mindful state. This mindful state decreases anxiety and can help put the person at ease.
Addiction is a powerful disease. Whether it is drugs or alcohol, one’s mental health is greatly impacted by these addictions. When one exercises, the chemical dopamine is released. Dopamine is a “reward” chemical. This chemical makes a person feel good. This is the same chemical released from various substances that can also cause addictions. After a good workout, the body releases dopamine to make the person feel good. In a way, exercise becomes a therapeutic escape for addicts as the dopamine comes from exercise and not addictive substances.
Productivity is a necessity in today’s busy environment. However, many people lack productivity for numerous reasons. However, if a person exercises regularly, the results may be an increase in productivity. This is thanks to the general increase of energy in the long term thanks to exercising. The person may also sleeps better thanks to exercising regularly, which will help them in the day ahead work harder. All of this keeps the mind sharp and ready to tackle the tasks of the day.
Cognition is essentially the ability for a person to attain and keep information. When a person is young, cognitive abilities are strong. But, as a person gets older, brain cells begin to deteriorate, causing the level of cognition to decrease. This is especially true in the hippocampus region of the brain. What can exercise do? Exercising releases a ton of chemicals that help brain cells remain strong. In fact, new brain cells are often produced from exercise thanks to the production of the brain protein BDNF. Although exercising can never stop the deterioration already occurring in the brain, such as during Alzheimer’s, exercising can help minimize the deterioration of brain cells over a life time and even boost mental stamina.
Check out this infographic by Fitness19 for more on the relationship between fitness and mental health.