The physical benefits of exercise are clear, but did you know working out can actually improve your mood and make you happier all around? That’s right, science shows that people who exercise on a regular basis are more fulfilled and have a clearer mind. The effect exercise has on our mental health and mood should not go unnoticed, as it’s one of the easiest and most accessible ways to get out of a rut. While many people go to the gym or pound the pavement in order to achieve a toned body and improve cardiovascular health, working out has many more benefits than what the eye can see. Over the last decade, scientists have looked at how exercise can boost brain function, elevates our mood, and contribute to how we view ourselves. In fact, exercise – of any kind – can have a hugely positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, and other mental health disorders. For those who aren’t a huge fan of the gym and cringe at the thought of lacing up those running shoes, the good news is even modest amounts of exercise can make a big difference. Regardless of your age or how fit you are, you can use exercise to make you a happier, more stable person.
Understanding the Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
We’ve established that exercise isn’t just about how big your muscles are or how tone your abs are, but what does this really mean? People who exercise on a regular basis (this could mean something as simple as going for a walk around the block or stretching in your living room) have a great sense of well-being. Their energy levels are higher throughout the day, they sleep better at night, they are more relaxed, they worry less, and they feel positively about themselves, their lives, and their surroundings.
For individuals who suffer from any of the many mental health disorders, exercise can be a game-changer. While it may seem intimidating to adopt a new routine or pick up exercising all of a sudden, doing so is a powerful depression fighter. There are many reasons for this, including:
- Exercise promotes feelings of calm and well-being
- It releases endorphins, which can give you energy and make you feel good
- It can serve as a distraction from the negative thoughts that contribute to depression
- It relieves tension and stress
- It boosts physical and mental energy
- For those with anxiety, it helps focus your body and interrupt the constant flow of negative thoughts
- When your body feels better, your mind does, too
- It is one of the most effective ways to reduce symptoms associated with ADHD
- Exercise improves concentration, motivation, memory, and mood
- Gives you higher self-esteem
- Helps you concentrate and feel mentally sharp
If you are struggling with a mental health disorder, we encourage you to get outside and try exercising. From going to a yoga class, mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, running, and hitting the gym for a few round of jumping jacks and a bike ride, there are countless ways to get exercise. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or some other mental health problem, please contact our Dallas counseling center. We are here to help you find the tools to feel better about yourself and live a more fulfilled life, whatever that means for you.