It has become common knowledge that exercise is good for the body. Regular exercise can aid in weight loss and help strengthen our muscles and bones, but sometimes that isn’t enough to get you exercising on a daily basis. There are numerous mental health benefits that come as a result of working out. These reasons may be the motivating factors you need.
Exercise and Positive Mood
There is a strong link between exercise and the treatment of mild to moderate anxiety and depression. Exercise encourages all kinds of positive changes in your body by releasing endorphins in your brain such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. They are known as the “feel good” chemicals because of their strong influence on your mood.
Exercise and Self-Esteem
When you aren’t happy with the way your body looks, it takes a toll on your confidence. Exercise helps to build your self-esteem by improving how your body moves, feels and looks. Even if you don’t lose weight from exercising, you are likely still strengthening your muscles and creating a firmer appearance of your skin. It can be empowering to run longer, lift heavier weights and stretch farther. These physical results will make you feel better about how you look and improve your confidence and self-esteem.
Exercise and Brain Power
Exercise enhances blood flow throughout your body, as well as in your brain. This increased blood flow supports the survival of new neurons and helps other neurons fire up faster. Exercise has been shown to promote neurogenesis, which allows for the creation and survival of new brain cells in the brain. All of this allows for better cognitive function, memory recall and more creativity.
Exercise and Pain
Studies show that people who exercise and stay flexible are able to better manage their pain than those who don’t. Typically, chronic pain can lower your pain threshold, meaning it takes less pain to cause you discomfort. Exercise, fortunately, helps to increase your pain threshold. The increased blood flow throughout your body allows your joints and muscles to move more freely, which further helps to decrease pain.
Exercise and Stress
When you engage in exercise, no matter what kind, it is wise to practice mind-to-muscle connection. This means focusing on the muscles you are using and intentionally squeezing them. During this time, you actually give your mind a chance to slow down and stop thinking about your stressors. Pair this with the better sleep you will experience from exercising and you will feel a significant reduction in your stress levels.
There are so many different types of exercise, ranging from weight lifting to yoga. No matter the kind, doing some is better than none. Do what you can and not only will you reap the benefits physically, but mentally as well.
If simple home interventions are not helping to lessen aches, pains and discomfort, it’s time to see a physical therapist. Stop by your nearest ATI Physical Therapy clinic for a complimentary screening and get back to doing you.