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10 Mental Health Benefits Of Excercise


10 Mental Health Benefits Of Excercise

We all know hitting the gym or pounding the pavement for miles does wonders for your bod and cardiovascular health, but did you know that it can have serious above-the-neck benefits too?

Just how exercise can boost your mind has been a keen area of study for scientists for the best part of two decades, and the results have been, quite frankly, mind boggling!

In fact, studies have shown that no one form of exercise is better than the other when it comes to boosting your brain power – whether you like to run marathons for fun or take a casual stroll on a Sunday!

So, here are our top 10 favourite ways exercise has been proven to better your mental health, some are pretty obvious, but some may just be a little unexpected…

1. Stress reduction

This one is pretty obvious. In fact, the idea that exercise can help reduce physical and mental stress has been around for years, but science has finally proven how this occurs.

You see, taking that brisk walk or hitting the squat rack after a rough day at the office has been shown to actively boost the chemical norepinephrine in the brain, a potent little chemical that helps manage your brain’s response to stress.

The more norepinephrine in the brain, the less stressed you’ll feel.

2. Keeps you sharper

There’s no beating about the bush here. As we age, our brains slow down. It’s a fact none of us can escape. We can, however, slow it down through exercise.

Daily physical activity, particularly between the ages of 25 and 45 – has been shown to boost chemicals in the brain linked to the prevention of degeneration of the hippocampus - the part of the brain is responsible for memory and learning.

3. Boosts creativity

Working up a sweat has been shown to rev your brain into gear for up to two hours post workout!

So the next time you’re feeling the afternoon slump, take 30 minutes and go for a walk. You’ll come back feeling ready to take on the world again. Much healthier than reaching for the coffee pot, don’t you think?

4. Increases brainpower

According to science, the more you exercise, the smarter you become. We know this may be surprising to read but it’s true!

You see, various studies on both lab mice and men have shown that cardiovascular exercise can actually create new brain cells as well as improve overall brain performance.

It’s believed that working up a sweat can boost BDNF – a brain derived protein thought to help with higher thinking, learning and decision making.

5. Inspiration

Studies have shown that people perform aerobic exercises better when working out with a buddy. This could be just good old fashioned competition kicking in or inspiration – you decide!

6. Makes you happy

Feeling “happy” may literally be the furthest thing from your mind when you’re slogging away on the treadmill, but you’ll certainly feel a wee buzz afterwards.

Exercise releases endorphins – AKA happy chemicals – as they give you feelings of euphoria and happiness.

7. Controls addiction

Dopamine is released by the brain in response to any form of pleasure – sex, drugs and rock n roll. This is no bad thing, yet it can become a problem when people become addicted to this release.

Exercise can act as a distraction for addicts to help them cope with cravings, at least for a short while, in order to help them stay on the wagon. It also releases endorphins, giving the person a rush of euphoria post workout, which may quell their cravings.

Exercise can act as a distraction for addicts to help them cope with cravings, at least for a short while, in order to help them stay on the wagon. It also releases endorphins, giving the person a rush of euphoria post workout, which may quell their cravings.

8. Boost self confidence

Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of exercise a day can actively increase a person’s self-confidence and improve their self-image. This is regardless of weight, size or age. Exercise actually boosts your feelings of self-worth!

Feel that love!

9. Makes you super chill

Exercise has been shown to have great benefits for people who suffer from insomnia.

Not only does the act itself tire the body but moving around 5-6 hours before bed raises the core body temperature. When this drops back to normal, your body (and mind) naturally wants to go to sleep.

10. Alleviates anxiety

The happy chemicals released by your brain as you exercise have been shown to help those of you with anxiety to calm.

In fact, the best kind of exercise you should do when feeling worried is HIIT as it distracts your mind from what’s making you anxious, kicks your brain into happy chemical releasing mode and helps your body destress.

All of the above is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to how exercise can affect your mental health with studies ongoing. However, it’s safe to say that there are very few mental health negatives to working up a sweat, so go on hit the trails and get happy, smarter and more chilled!

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