6 reasons why consistent exercise is essential for your mental health
The 6 ways exercise can shift mental health, wellbeing and perspective.
It’s easy to get lost in the idea that exercise is purely about the physical. And whilst there are obvious benefits for the body, it would be a lost opportunity to forget what exercise can do for the mind.
Staying on top of your mental health is important, especially in times like these when we’re working from home and harder than ever. It may not always feel like you have the time, but even a little is better than nothing.
Why does exercise make such an impact on your mental health?
1. It’s for you, and only you
When your mental health isn’t doing well, you tend to forget to put yourself first. Taking primary care of your well-being can be a powerful tool for maintaining mental health.
When you make the choice to be proactive about exercising, you’re doing something that is completely for you. Of course, some of us want to improve our health to be there for our loved ones, but at the end of the day, you are the one who is putting in the work and experiencing the changes.
2. Boost your endorphins
It isn’t unknown that exercise causes fantastic hormonal and chemical shifts in the body. Here’s how we see it; you’re never going to regret moving your body. 99.99% of the time you can feel your mood improve after a good workout or gentle movement. The other 0.01% is reserved for when you pull a hammy or fall off your bike, then you may feel a twinge of regret.
Serotonin and dopamine are both released when you exercise. Plus it isn’t the quick-fix instant gratification dopamine we get from our phones and series. It’s real, blood-pumping stuff that has far-reaching benefits.
Related: how to stay active in winter.
3. Exercise develops discipline
A disciplined life is a life you can enjoy. That may sound counterintuitive but hear us out. When you take control of your health and your priorities, you remain true to those goals regardless of what is happening around you. Discipline isn’t about restricting your life, it is about enhancing your life.
Committing to exercising creates a sense of structure and pride, which can boost your overall mental health.
Bear in mind that some mental health disorders like anorexia, OCD or orthorexia may present themselves as excessive control. Keep an eye out if it starts to feel like you aren’t in control of your exercise schedule.
Read this next: 3 steps to making your exercise habits stick.
4. Decreases discomfort
When the body is under-exercised, you feel uncomfortable. Pain can be a massive contributor to poor mental health. It’s frustrating and can pull focus from your daily tasks. Maybe you don’t realise it but how often are you trying to stretch your back in your desk chair or battling with your knees up the stairs? When you don’t move your body, your muscles and joints become tight causing restricted movement and immobility.
When you stretch, run, box or swim you are giving your body a chance to stretch and strengthen, which means you can carry yourself better.
5. Improves sleep
Sleeping for an average of 7 hours per night sounds like a far fetched dream for some, especially when you aren’t in a good mental state. Depression and anxiety both affect sleep, whether it be sleeping too little or too much.
Think of a time when you crashed onto your pillow after a run followed by a warm shower and comfortable pyjamas. There’s nothing quite like it. Or the feeling when you resist pushing snooze and instantly feel invigorated once you move your body before you start your workday.
They’re both positive feelings that have a lot to do with your sleep and energy levels.
6. Builds your self-confidence
Starting and sticking to an exercise plan will do wonders for your sense of self. Once you start to see your capabilities and growth, the way you see yourself will start to change.
Self-efficacy is when you can trust yourself to see things through. And do you know how you build self-efficacy? By completing what you set out to do. When you prioritise your health and make movement an essential part of your day, you feel more confident in yourself because you’re doing something to improve your life.
If you’re looking for a place to start, check out some small but effective workouts to get pumped about exercising, try this 30 Minute Equipment Free Full Body Workout for size!
Until next time,