A regular exercise routine is beneficial in so many ways – it reduces your risk for health issues such as cardiovascular disease and type two diabetes. And as you age, it can help strengthen your muscles and bones to keep you active and agile so you can live longer.
Exercise is not only good for your physical health, but also your mental and emotional health. Most of us recognize that getting up and moving can help us shake off a bad day, or get us energized in the morning. At the end of a workout, we usually feel pretty good, even if we're sore! This is because during exercise, endorphins kick in and the brain releases serotonin, a chemical that helps you feel good.
Here are five ways exercise can improve your mental health that you might not know about:
Reduces mental fog.
Sometimes, especially if we're under continued stress, we can become forgetful or unable to think clearly. Exercise helps keep you alert and focused because it activates the part of your brain that deals with decision-making and emotional processing.
Reduces stress and anxiety.
Sometimes we can feel so anxious in our own skin, we need to get up and move. There’s a reason for this – exercise releases serotonin, which help decrease negative emotions. When you exercise on a consistent basis, you are better able to handle and process stress without being so affected by it.
You feel energized.
When you move less, you tend to feel lethargic and it’s harder to motivate yourself to go to the gym or take a walk. It is likely also harder to fall asleep and wake up on time. When you incorporate exercise into your day, you find you have more energy, motivation, and you also have better sleep patterns. When you aren't feeling tired during the day, it's easier to get more accomplished.
You appreciate your body more.
We tend to be hard on ourselves when it comes to physical appearance – both men and women. But daily exercise means that you build your muscle tone over time, and even if your weight fluctuates, you are building muscle mass and getting stronger. Body strength is a great motivator – you realize how much your body can do for you and what it’s capable of when you are strong.
Happier outlook and relationships.
All of the benefits of exercise add up to a happier you. The more you try to incorporate movement into your day, the better your mood, and the more motivated you are to reach out to friends and family. You're more likely to be social (and say yes to invitations), and to create new relationships. As a result, your overall happiness and satisfaction with relationships increases.
Isn’t that worth getting up a little earlier to run, walk or hit the gym? There are also online fitness services which allow you to get a good workout from home (by streaming video to your TV and tablet) whether you are into Yoga, PIYo or aerobics.