Strengthening the Brain: Top 7 Surprising Mental Benefits of Exercise : Working out is great for the body. Many of us do it to lose or maintain weight. However, another motivation to exercise is the good it does your brain. Did you know there are just as many psychological benefits of exercise as there is physical?
This guide will tell you seven benefits staying active have for our mental health, ranging from a higher sense of self to better quality sleep. Keep reading to find out.
Higher Sense of Self-Esteem and Confidence
True, you do gain confidence from the changes you see in your body when you start working out. Still, that higher sense of self and boosted confidence occurs much before the time you notice you are slimming down or gaining muscle.
It starts from the head first. When you engage in a regular workout routine, you feel like you CAN do things you didn’t know you could accomplish at first. There’s nothing like climbing the top of several flights of stairs or a mountain that screams, yes, you are more than capable of doing things.
When you beat something you didn’t know you could do, you begin to challenge yourself more. This may inspire you to work out more, or talk more if you are shy. This further improves self-esteem.
They say if your body feels good, so does your mind. When you are feeling stressed, it can be hard to focus or feel good. While exercise will not solve all of your answers to the stress problem, it can reduce the level of stress you feel. If your mind is all over the place or you find it hard to sleep, you should work out.
Any form of exercise can help you unwind and take your mind off things, even if it is just for a little bit. When you increase your heart rate, you actually reduce brain damage induced by stress. Yes, stress can and does affect the brain.
Working out can protect the brain when it releases stress hormones like catecholamines which can improve your mind and thinking. Whether anger, fear, or sadness is your source of stress, you can feel a little bit better taking a walk or work a sweat after punching or kicking your pillow a few times.
Offers Mental Boost
So many of us can agree working out can be draining at times when you are doing it at the moment, especially when you just start getting active after being sedentary. However, it also has a mood-enhancing effect you will feel during or after your workout.
It doesn’t take long to achieve this either. In as little as 5 minutes, you can boost your spirits and feel like you can tackle anything. The positive mood effect can make you feel more inspired whether you decide to go out for a long walk, lift weights, or swim.
Eases Depression and Anxiety
Exercise is a powerful mood booster and it helps ease feelings of depression and anxiety for those who struggle with it. You not only reduce overall circulating stress hormones when you work out, but you also increase the body’s “feel-good” hormones known as endorphins.
Endorphins are made in the central nervous system. Working out can stimulate your body to make more. Exercise is able to treat mild to moderate cases of depression just as much as antidepressant medication — and without any adverse effects.
You do not have to do much. Working out as little as 10-15 minutes a day for 3-5 days out of the week can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Those who struggle with PTSD and trauma benefit from exercise too.
You can still grab the coffee, but if you are looking for ways to increase your energy levels, you should look at exercise. Ever heard of people who say they get their “second wind” sometime during their workout or those who say they now have the stamina to do something they didn’t feel like doing before?
Exercise can be the answer you need to give you that lift you desire when you feel tired or unmotivated. You can jam to music as you clean or you can accomplish all your errands for the day with ease after a morning walk.
Working out outside can be difficult for some due to temperature changes. During the winter, it’s helpful to use a cold weather running headband.
Enhanced Thinking and Memory
The endorphins your brain produces can also help your sense of concentration and remain sharp. You are better able to brainstorm or react to stimuli.
Contrary to common belief, your brain does not degenerate as it ages. It is not a matter of cognitive ability getting better or worse when we get older, everything just alters.
For example, short term memory is highest around 25 and declines after 35. This does not mean you cannot do anything to keep it at its peak or regain better ability.
Working out can help increase the size of your brain by stimulating the growth of new brain cells. You enlarge areas of your brain related to coordination, planning, memory, and task management. This allows your brain to function quicker and more efficiently.
If you have problems going to sleep, staying asleep, or having restful sleep, exercise may be what you need. When we work out, we increase our body temperature which will later have a calming effect on the brain.
Working out can help those with sporadic sleep cycles normalize and regulate their circadian rhythm. There is no “best” time you should be active. Whether you decide to do it in the morning, afternoon, or night, you can promote sleep.
Take Advantage of These Mental Benefits of Exercise
There are many benefits of exercise related to your mental health. Many of us forget that we should care for our minds just as much as our bodies. Any time you are feeling tired, down, angry, or lack confidence, you should always take time out of your day to care for yourself.
You do not have to over think it. Any form of exercise, no matter how long or short is helpful. You will certainly feel the difference when you do it often.
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