The Benefits Of Exercise For Mental Health

Most people love the feeling they have after a workout. They’re almost euphoric. Part of it may be that they finished the workout, but most of the time it’s the endorphins that make them feel good. It’s one of the mental health benefits that comes from exercise. Exercise provides even more for mental health. It helps burn off the hormones caused by stress. The increased circulation also boosts mental functioning, which is why many therapists are using it as an adjunct therapy for dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Exercise helps maintain a beneficial microbiome.

Your gut microbiome is often called an organ because if it’s out of balance, it can make you sick. If it contains mostly beneficial bacteria and just a few harmful ones, it keeps the body functioning correctly. Your gut microbiome directly affects your mental health. It produces enzymes that keep your brain functioning properly. Scientists believe that certain mental conditions like ADD, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia are caused or exacerbated by an imbalance in the microbiome. Studies show that, like diet, exercise can encourage a healthier gut microbiome.

Exercise increases circulation that sends oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the brain.

Your whole body benefits from exercise, including your brain. Several studies show exercise can increase cognitive functioning and reduce age-related mental decline. It increases the creation of new brain cells and boosts the functioning of the memory processing area. Exercise also triggers the increased production of glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid—GABA—two neurotransmitters. People who are depressed have depleted stores but with regular exercise, those neurotransmitters return to normal levels.

The role of stress and mental health.

Stress is vital for life but was far more important to early man. The fight or flight response occurs because of stress. If a caveman faced a dangerous animal, the stress hormones triggered changes in the body to help man run faster and further or fight with more vigor. Most of today’s stress is nothing like early man’s. Running or fighting won’t solve a problem with an angry boss or help you if there’s a traffic jam so you never run or fight, which burns off stress hormones. Exercise mimics those actions to relieve that angry, anxious, or depressed feeling.

  • When you workout, it improves your posture. It makes you look and feel more confident. You’ll feel stronger and more in charge. Those feelings can help you overcome depression and anxiety.
  • A good night’s sleep can help lift your spirits. You have the energy to get through the day but even more important, quality sleep allows your brain to repair and reorganize. Your brain removes waste when you’re asleep.
  • Exercise can help you deal with addiction. It can replace some coping mechanisms that are more destructive like overeating, smoking, alcohol, or drugs. That can make you feel more in control.
  • Depression and anxiety often display themselves as skeletal tension. Exercise helps relax the tightness. It also diverts your attention from problems and puts your focus directly on the exercise. It can give you a new perspective when you finish.

For more information, contact us today at UpFit Training Academy

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