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The Positive Effects of Exercise On Your Mental Health

In the crazy world we live in, it is crucial to prioritize your mental health. But what does that truly mean? What are ways you can prioritize your mental health? There are a variety of effective ways to care for your mental health, however, this blog is going to survey one of those ways- exercise. Exercise is a great method and a powerful strategy to strengthen your mental well-being.

The positive effects that exercise has on your mental health relate both to your mental and physical improvement. Some of the benefits of exercise are as follows:

1. Exercise Releases Endorphins: Endorphins are chemical neurotransmitters that are released by your brain. They are typically released when one feels pain or stress (in order to help the body relieve some of the feelings). However, endorphins are also released during pleasurable activities. Endorphins act as a natural painkiller and help elevate your mood. When you workout, these neurotransmitters are released to reduce stress, alleviate pain, and boost your sense of well-being!

2. Exercise Reduces Stress and Anxiety: Cortisol is the hormone produced by our bodies that is associated with stress and anxiety. High levels of cortisol are tied to weight gain, exhaustion, and depression. While high-intensity workouts (like HIIT) may cause a spike in cortisol levels (which is not necessarily bad), low-impact calming exercise has been shown to reduce overall cortisol levels. Exercise can act as a healthy outlet, causing mental stress release, but can also physically lower your stress hormones and lead to a more stress-free life.

3. Exercise Improves Sleep Quality: Although scientists are not completely certain of the mechanism for how sleep quality improves with exercise, studies have shown that exercise increases the amount of slow-wave sleep. Slow waves are the deep portion of sleep that humans get. This type of sleep is what allows the brain and body to refresh and function optimally. Better sleep is linked to happiness and cognitive functioning, all aspects of better mental health.

4. Exercise Can Boost Self-Confidence: Working out can help improve body image and self-esteem. The more you commit to regular exercise, the more progress you will see. You will likely feel accomplished and happy with the physical improvement associated with your fitness commitment. The physical change may lead to a mental change as you will have a greater sense of self-confidence and pride for your hard work and progress.

These are only some of the many mental health benefits of exercising regularly. Not only does exercise improve your physical health, but it leads to both mental and chemical changes within your brain to improve mood, reduce stress, and strengthen your sense of self-fulfillment. With all this being said, exercise is not the only mechanism for mental health improvement and may not work for everyone. If you are struggling, you may want to talk to someone professional who can recommend other strategies.

Here at Apple Psychological, we have many different professionals who can offer support and help get you started on your mental health journey today. If you are struggling, feel free to reach out to our team at: (917) 526-0766, or book a FREE consultation call.

An experienced therapist specializing in Adult Counseling can help.