You already know that physical exercise is great for your body. Did you know that staying active and keeping fit is also beneficial to your mental health? It can improve the symptoms that come along with anxiety, depression, and even ADHD. Not only that, but exercise can improve your sleep patterns, relieves stress, boosts memory, and has a positive impact on your mood as well. Exercise can also help stave off dementia, it can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and even lung disease. It’s also an effective way to improve recovery time for a variety of illnesses.
The best part? You don’t need a gym membership to enjoy those benefits. That’s right, modest exercise is more than enough to positively impact your mental and physical health.
How Exercise Benefits Mental Health
When you exercise it triggers a release of endorphins, the feel-good hormone. It also increases the release of serotonin, which improves your mood. If you take to the streets for a walk after dinner, then you have an opportunity for social wellness, too. The gym, of course, opens up a whole new avenue for meeting new people and avoiding loneliness.
Regular exercise helps manage the symptoms that are associated with anxiety and depression. One of the biggest ways it does this is by helping relieve stress. Of course, the excess of feel-good hormones also help.
Another really important benefit that comes with regular exercise is the effect it has on your sleep pattern. Even chronic insomniacs benefit from exercise. Sleep influences every aspect of your life. A lack of sleep has a negative impact on your mental health, your dietary decisions, your focus, your memory, and everything else that you do on a daily basis. Managing your sleep patterns is often the key to improving a wide range of mental health issues.
Exercise keeps blood pumping to your brain, which also helps sharpen your focus and clears your mind to make thinking easier. It improves your memory, too, by literally increasing the size of your hippocampus (the part of your brain that is responsible for memory! It also boosts the brain’s nerve cell connections. All of this boosts your memory and helps your brain fight against disease and injury.
So, how much exercise is enough? As we mentioned earlier, you don’t need a gym membership to enjoy the benefits of exercise. Ideally, you should be getting in 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week. Alternatively, you can indulge in vigorous exercise for 75 minutes each week. You can break that down however you like, but in an ideal world, you would make time for some type of physical activity every day of the week. If you are interested in lifting weights, be sure to allow your muscles rest days to recover. Two days a week is more than sufficient when it comes to strength training.
It’s okay to start with shorter workouts and work your way up.