The physical benefits of exercise have been common scientific knowledge for decades now. But did you know that exercise also carries huge benefits for your mental health? Here are a few of the most direct ways in which it makes a difference.
Improve Your Body Image
A lot of people have somewhat difficult relationships with their bodies. Many people are chronically dissatisfied with how they look–even when pouring lots of time and money into maintaining themselves. Some people even develop serious mental health problems (e.g., eating disorders) as a result of how they are taught to think about their bodies. Exercise can help you feel better about yourself in a healthy way. Even before you are in shape, the fact that you were able to push your body to the limit will help you feel a sense of accomplishment that will make you proud. And when you are in shape, you will feel good about your progress.
Reduce Your Stress
Your mind and body are intimately connected. What you do with your body will have a direct effect on the chemicals in your brain. Exercise has been proven to help the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin–which are the chemicals that help with happiness. It provides a physical release of stress and pressure. Sometimes stress can lead to digestive problems and other numerous issues. Thus, exercise helps you to balance every part of your life with the happy chemicals that it produces. Translating those negative emotions into physical activity can have a huge impact!
Improve Sleep Patterns
When your sleep schedule is good, everything in your life will be good. People who have careers that wreck their sleep schedule tend to be a lot more stressed on a day-to-day basis. Exercise will help you when it comes to the natural rhythms of your body. You will start to become tired at the appropriate time. People who struggle with insomnia will want to try regular, rigorous exercise as a way to help treat their chronic inability to sleep. When you get better sleep, you also will notice an improvement in your mood, your ability to focus, and your physical energy.
Exercise helps with more than just mood and stress. Studies have shown that it also can help people deal with any number of mental illnesses–including depression, anxiety, ADHD, and PTSD. It makes your body tired, but it makes your brain feel wonderful.
Check out this article on how to help heal sore muscles after a workout!