Across the world, the physical benefits of exercise are discussed by medical and fitness professionals every day. Yet, the mental health benefits of exercise are rarely shared.

Although the physical benefits of exercise are thought to be much more significant, especially as exercise can improve an individual’s cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes and lower the likelihood that an individual will develop diabetes, the mental health benefits of exercise are just as important.

Research has determined that individuals who participate in exercise on a daily basis experience an average of 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health each month.

Further research published by the UK Chief Medical Officers highlights strong evidence that suggests physically active adults are more likely to be safeguarded against mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Active adults are also less likely to develop an impaired cognitive function and dementia.

 

Our Top 5 Mental Health Benefits Of Exercise

From reducing the overall impact stress has on your life to alleviating symptoms associated with depression and anxiety, we have shared our top 5 mental health benefits of exercise below.

 

1. Exercise Is Known To Reduce Stress

Whether you decide to go for a brisk walk in the fresh air, join an exercise group, or participate in weightlifting at the gym, exercise is proven to reduce stress and improve an individual’s overall mood as feel-good hormones, including dopamine and serotonin, are released.

As feel-good hormones are released during exercise, many individuals experience positive sensations that relieve the stress that may have been encountered at work or at home.  In turn, many are left feeling much more optimistic and positive about their day to day life.

Although many believe that exercise only reduces stress for a short period, the highs associated with the release of feel-good hormones can last for a substantial amount of time.  With this in mind, participating in as little as 30-minutes of exercise a day could leave you feeling carefree.

 

2. Exercise Helps Alleviate Depression and Anxiety

Exercise has been proven to reduce and alleviate the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

Adults who participate in a form of exercise each day are 30% less likely to suffer from depression.

Likewise, regular exercise can effectively help individuals navigate and overcome feelings of anxiety.  This is because, as confirmed by Harvard Medical School, engaging in a sport can essentially divert an individual’s attention for a period of time.

 

3. Exercise Enhances Cognitive Function

As individuals age, cognitive function naturally declines.  However, research has found that mental health disorders such as stress and anxiety can accelerate cognitive decline.  Sadly, this puts more individuals at risk of suffering from early-onset dementia.

Although, as touched on above, cognitive function declines naturally with age, exercise can help preserve and enhance cognitive function.  This is because exercise improves cognitive performance, attention and memory.

In addition to the above, adults that participate in exercise are thought to be 30% less likely to develop dementia and 45% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Society.

 

4. Exercise Promotes A Better Night Sleep

Unbeknown to many, exercise is also essential when it comes to getting a better night sleep.  In fact, up to 83% of adults in the United Kingdom report that the quality of their sleep significantly increases when they participate in a form of exercise during the day.

Sadly, insufficient sleep has been linked to an increase in the number of people suffering from anxiety and depression.

Poor sleep, which often arises from mental health disorders, also sees up to 30% of British adults struggle with insomnia.

As a result, exercising to promote a better night sleep is vital.

 

5. Exercise Improves Self-Esteem

In addition to promoting a better night sleep, alleviating anxiety and depression and reducing stress, exercise can also improve self-esteem and self-confidence.

In many instances, when individuals suffer from anxiety, stress and other mental health disorders, they also struggle with low self-esteem.

Sadly, as confirmed by mental health charity Mind, low self-esteem can make it difficult for many individuals to take the steps needed to overcome their mental health disorder.

However, participating in exercise can help individuals improve their self-esteem.  Over time, feel-good hormones alleviate self-destructive behaviours and see many adults develop a newfound confidence in themselves.

In turn, mental health disorders such as anxiety are known to alleviate naturally. Symptoms associated with depression also minimise, enabling many to live a happy and healthy lifestyle.

 

Take Advantage Of The Mental Health Benefits Of Exercise Today

As we can see from the above, exercise has a profound impact on mental health.  With this in mind, if you sadly find yourself struggling with a mental health disorder, it may be time for you to consider taking part in a form of physical activity.

The NHS typically recommends 150 minutes of exercise such as walking, running, swimming or cycling each week. However, you must find a form of exercise that you enjoy.  This will ensure that exercise has a positive impact on your mental health.

If your life is impaired by a mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or stress, in addition to taking advantage of the 5 mental health benefits of exercise noted above, seeking professional treatment will ensure that you can overcome and mitigate your mental health disorder.

 

Contact Us For Mental Health Support And Treatment

If you have tried to take advantage of the 5 mental health benefits of exercise outlined above but still find yourself struggling with impaired mental health, seeking professional support and treatment may be in your best interest.

At Nova Recovery, we provide a wealth of psychological and well-being mental health treatments at our rehab hospital in Largs, Scotland.

Whether you are ready to discuss the support available or would like to refer yourself for treatment at our rehab hospital, we welcome you to call us today on 01475 303998.

Alternatively, you can email [email protected] to arrange a callback.

 

Sources

The Role of Physical Activity and Sport in Mental Health

Can exercise help treat anxiety?

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