We've all heard that exercise is good for your mental health, and the age-old wisdom behind this statement holds truer than ever. Beyond its well documented physical benefits, regular physical activity plays a vital role in supporting and enhancing our mental wellbeing. In this blog, we will delve into five essential ways that exercise positively impacts our mental health, offering you even more reasons to lace up those runners and get moving. So, if you need some motivation to prioritise your physical health and mental wellness, read on to discover the powerful connections between exercise and mental wellbeing.
1. Improves Mood
One of the most immediate and noticeable benefits of exercise on mental health is its mood-boosting effects. When you engage in physical activity, your brain releases endorphins, which are often referred to as "feel good" hormones. These endorphins create a natural high, reducing stress and promoting a sense of happiness and relaxation. Regular exercise has been shown to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, making it a powerful tool for combating mood disorders.
2. Stimulates Creative and Flexible Thinking
Exercise is not only about physical fitness; it's also a workout for your brain. When you're active, your brain experiences increased blood flow and oxygen, which enhances cognitive function. This boost in brainpower can lead to more creative and flexible thinking. Whether you're tackling a complex problem at work or simply looking for creative inspiration, exercise can help you think outside the box and find new solutions to challenges.
3. Protects Cognitive Function
As we age, cognitive decline becomes a concern for many. However, regular exercise can serve as a powerful defense mechanism against age-related cognitive decline. Studies have shown that physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of conditions like Alzheimer's disease and dementia. This protective effect is due to exercise's ability to promote neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to adapt and reorganise itself, and the creation of new brain cells.
4. Aids in Decision Making and Planning
The ability to make sound decisions and plan effectively is a fundamental aspect of good mental health. Exercise can significantly enhance your cognitive function, allowing you to make better choices and organise your thoughts more effectively. This is particularly important in high-stress situations where clear thinking and efficient decision-making are crucial. Regular exercise can give you the mental edge you need to tackle life's challenges.
5. Boosts Memory and Recall
If you find yourself frequently forgetting names, appointments, or where you left your keys, exercise might be the solution you've been looking for. Physical activity has a positive impact on memory and recall. It stimulates the production of neurotrophic factors, which are essential for long-term memory. Furthermore, exercise increases the size of the hippocampus, a brain region associated with memory and learning. By engaging in regular exercise, you can sharpen your memory and boost your ability to recall information.
Incorporating exercise into your daily routine is a powerful and natural way to enhance your mental health. Not only does it improve your mood, stimulate creative thinking, and enhance and protect cognitive function, but it also aids in decision making, planning, and memory recall. The benefits of exercise extend far beyond physical fitness, making it an essential component of a holistic approach to mental wellbeing. So, the next time you're feeling stressed or struggling with a complex problem, consider taking a break and going for a run, walk, or weights session – your mind will thank you.
Feeling inspired to embrace exercise and start feeling the positive effects on your mental health as well as your physical. Come on down to Simply Stronger, where our exercise physiologists can help you to build an exercise plan that works for you. We work with you, taking a holistic approach to your health. Looking at not only what exercises will help to support your physical and mental wellbeing, but also how best to use this exercise to fit into your life. We are all unique and deserve an approach that support you as a whole person.
Simply Stronger - here to make exercise simple. Understanding why you should exercise is a giant step towards wanting to exercise.