Regular exercise is obviously good for your physical health. It can help you reduce the risk of heart disease, maintain a healthy weight, and build stronger muscles. However, the reason a lot of people love to exercise is because of the “runner’s high” that it can provide. This endorphin rush is partially responsible for the beneficial effects that fitness has on mood, mental health, and well-being.
What types of exercises are best for mental health you ask? Well, we will get to that, but first let’s look at the general effects of exercise on well-being.
Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
Have you ever wondered what keeps you going back to the gym even when your exhausted and your muscles feel weak and sore? Sure, it could be motivation to improve your physical health, but the endorphins and positive impact on mood are likely influencing your healthy fitness decisions.
Exercise can help with mood and provide you with a sense of well-being and a positive outlook. It can also help to improve your cognitive abilities because the endorphins also help with concentration and exercise can help to stimulate the production of new brain cells.
If you want to improve your self-esteem, then exercise may be an easy way to give you the boost you need. Not only does it improve your outlook, but you may also feel better about the way you look. Finally, setting fitness goals and reaching them can provide a sense of accomplishment that may also help you feel good about yourself.
Exercise can provide you with more energy during the day. Just a little bit of exercise can have this effect. It even helps you sleep better which may also help you wake up feeling rested and refreshed the next morning.
Life brings stress with it and regular exercise can help you build up resilience to those challenges. This can help you cope in a healthy way instead of turning to negative behaviors like drinking or eating high-calorie food.
Exercise for Depression
Exercise can have a profound effect on symptoms of depression. In fact, it may be as beneficial as prescription antidepressant medicines. Just a small amount of exercise each day may reduce the risk of developing depression by a quarter or more.
Fitness helps to encourage the neurons in the brain to grow and the endorphin release helps to make you feel good and optimistic. In addition, exercise can provide a distraction from the distressing thought patterns that often coincide with depression and other mental health conditions.
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Exercise for Anxiety
Exercise is a great way to relieve tension and fight stress and anxiety. It can also offer a distraction that can help you be in the present moment. This can interrupt the racing thoughts and worries that anxiety brings with it.
Furthermore, anxiety often causes a host of other symptoms like insomnia and tension. Exercise can often help with these symptoms as well by keeping you on a healthier sleep schedule and strengthening your resilience to the harmful effects of stress.
Exercises for Mental Health
Now let’s look at some of the best forms of exercise that you can do for your mental health and why they may help to improve your well-being.
While this may seem obvious, it is still good to reinforce the health benefits of walking (or running). Walking can be beneficial in a few different ways. First, it is easy on the body, but can still give you the endorphin release that can make you feel good.
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It is not stressful and can be quite enjoyable. You don’t have to set any strict goals and can do it anytime you have a half-hour of time to spare. This is also a great way to get back into a fitness regimen without putting your body through too much if you have neglected your physical health for a while.
Walking can also be a form of relaxation because it can help you escape from your stressful life. Not only that but walking in nature may offer additional benefits. Being in nature can have a positive influence on your well-being and walking gives you a physically active and relaxing way to experience a natural atmosphere.
Again, this may be obvious, but if you have never tried yoga, you may not know how significant the benefits can be. Not only that, but it can improve flexibility and strengthen your muscles throughout the body.
Yoga can be soothing and meditative while also working out your body. The connection between the mind, body, and soul can be strong and keep you in a deep state of awareness and mindfulness.
The breathing component of yoga is highly meditative and relaxing. It can help you stop anxious or distressing thoughts in their tracks and put you into a calming state of mind. When we are anxious, we tend to breath in short bursts, and this stops those characteristics of stress and anxiety and brings a soothing mental calmness with it.
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Swimming is a great, low-impact exercise option. It can also be more enjoyable for some people than other forms of exercise. This can help you get more physical exercise because it seems less like work and more like play.
The water provides resistance that does not put too much pressure or stress on the joints and muscles and can improve flexibility. Swimming can burn a lot of calories and give a release of endorphins that can help bring your mood up. It can also be a great way to cool off after a traditional workout.
Dancing can be fun for many people and can be a great form of physical exercise. Different dancing styles use different muscles, and some are much more intense than others. Some types of dancing can also help to improve flexibility and stamina.
Listening to music may also have a positive impact on your mood. Couple that with the endorphins and joy that dancing can bring, and you have a highly beneficial form of mental health exercise.
You may also feel a sense of accomplishment when you learn new dances or improve your ability to adequately perform and move. Dancing can also provide a sense of community because it is often a classroom or group activity. These types of communities can offer emotional support and positive social interaction.
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Resistance training can be good for mental health for a couple of reasons. It can help you improve your self-esteem and the way that you feel about your own appearance. It can also help to reduce anxiety levels.
Research indicates that resistance training can decrease your levels of stress and anxiety. It can also improve cognitive function and the central nervous system. This may help to reduce mental and physical fatigue and improve mood.
Final Thoughts on Exercises for Mental Health
Exercise can help to reduce your chances of a lot of different illnesses, but it can also help you improve your perspective on your self and life. It can help you feel positive about your situation and many types of exercise also allow you to be present in the moment which can be soothing. Things like taking a walk, participating in yoga, or swimming can help you improve your well-being.
If you were hesitant about going to work out before, maybe this gives you the motivation you need to start going to the gym more often.