How Exercise Helps Mental Health

Mental health issues may be as mild as just lacking energy or interest to extremely difficult and require professional help. While exercise helps with both types of issues, more severe problems require more help and becomes an adjunct therapy. Whether you’re just feeling antsy or don’t have the energy you should have, if you’re healthy otherwise, maybe it’s time to start getting your body moving. There’s a lot of reasons exercise can lift your spirits and get you back on the right track.

Stress may be the cause of your problem.

Stress can do a lot of things to your body and mind if endured for a long time. Exercise helps burn off the hormones produced by stress and get you back to feeling more normal. The stress hormones prepare you for running or fighting and an active workout can mimic one or both of those things. It also can stimulate the creation of happy hormones, often called the runner’s high, which make you feel good.

Exercise increases blood flow to the brain.

Is a fuzzy brain the problem? Exercise can help. It stimulates circulation and sends oxygen and nutrient laden blood to the brain. Is depression or anxiety a problem? Studies show that exercise is just as effective as medication as an adjunct therapy. When combined with traditional psychological help, it brought similar or better results than medication and therapy. Best of all, the only side effects of exercise are looking and feeling better. Even moderate exercise a few times a week can improve overall mental health and happiness.

Why does exercise help?

In addition to improving circulation, exercise can help improve the quality of your gut microbiome. The microbes in the gut play an important role in the chemistry of the brain. Exercise also helps you sleep better at night, while improving the quality of your sleep. That helps both mental functioning and mood. Exercise also improves cognitive abilities and boost neurogenesis, which is the creation of new brain cells. It improves memory by strengthening the hippocampus, which improves memory.

  • Exercising can improve your posture. When you walk tall, you look more confident. Try slumping, then sitting up straight. When you sit up straight, you actually feel more confident, too.
  • When you boost your heart rate with exercise, it improves circulation, while also increasing the production of neurohormones that control your mood. They make you feel better and boost cognitive functioning.
  • Exercise boosts the production of neural pathways in the brain. That makes it easier to learn new things and makes the brain work faster.
  • Moving around when you’re under pressure is a natural response. It’s why people pace in tense situations. The body automatically knows what to do to handle stress, you just have to learn to listen.

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