How does fitness affect mental health?

Jul 13, 2020 - 4 min read
What exercise helps mental health?

The benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are long and varied. Many of them you’re most likely already familiar with: it can build muscle and support strong bones, it can aid in weight loss goals or encourage weight maintenance, it can help the health and appearance of your skin, and lower your risk for chronic diseases, among a slew of other amazing benefits.

But did you know that fitness can have a profound effect on your mental and emotional health as well? From energy and happiness to brain health, memory, and sleep quality, physical activity is proven to have a ton of emotional and mental advantages to it, too.

Read on for the details!

The mental and emotional benefits of fitness

Fitness has an incredible impact on not only our physical health but also our mental and emotional well-being. From higher energy levels, better sleep, sharper memories and clearer focus to better self-esteem and elevated mood, exercise is a powerful way to relieve stress and feel more relaxed and positive about ourselves.

The best part is you don’t need to commit an overwhelming amount of time to it in order to reap all the benefits. In fact, just 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5x a week is all it takes to enjoy both the physical as well as the mental and emotional advantages of a regular exercise routine.

Even better, those minutes don’t have to be strung together all at once, either. Breaking it down into smaller increments of time, however they may fit into your day, your life and your schedule, produces the same results.

  • Boost Your Mood

This one might be a given, but it’s worth repeating! Exercise releases chemicals in the brain, like endorphins and serotonin, that can physically improve your mood. Bonus, these chemicals are released within just ten minutes of physical activity.

Keep that statistic in mind when you just don’t feel like working out. Commit to 10 minutes and most likely you’ll be feeling good enough to not only get through your workout, you’ll brighten up the rest of your day, too!

  • Sharpen Your Memory

Those same endorphins that make you feel better are also responsible for enhancing your thinking, memory and cognitive abilities. Regular exercise not only helps you focus and concentrate better, it also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent cognitive decline.

  • Sleep Better

Physical activity has been proven to improve not only sleep quality but also sleep duration . This is important because sleep is very deeply connected with both mood and mental well-being.

A lack of sleep can cause not only irritability and stress but chronic sleep deprivation can increase the risk of anxiety, depression or developing a mood disorder.

  • Manage Stress and Anxiety

Exercise effectively relieves both tension and stress, thanks again to the release of endorphins in the brain. As a natural anti-anxiety remedy, physical activity works best when you are mindful of your movements as opposed to simply zoning out.

Want to know more about how mindfulness works? Check out our post on What is a Mindfulness Practice, here .

  • Increased Self-Confidence

One of the most rewarding benefits of a regular fitness regimen is the self-esteem and self-confidence boost it can bring with it. Taking the time to participate in regular physical activity is a reminder to yourself of your inherent value as a human being.

It is a powerful way to invest in yourself, your health, and your mind and body. When done habitually, exercise encourages higher feelings of self-worth that reinforces the mental health benefits.

  • Enjoy More Energy

You can again thank those endorphins for the boost of energy you feel after having completed a solid workout.

When you commit to raising your heart rate and getting your blood circulating multiple times a week, you’ll reap the benefits of increased overall energy levels both when you wake up each morning as well as throughout the day.

  • Lower Risk of Depression

People who participate in regular physical activity have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed , and exercise also can help those who are depressed, recover.

Fitness can distract you from negative thoughts and emotions that fuel depression, but it can also reduce the stress that is associated with anxiety and other mental health issues.

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Melania Armento

Melania is a SEO specialist at Virtuagym, one of the leading innovators in the digital health and fitness industry. With 6+ years experience in marketing, she loves fitness, ranking keywords with high monthly search volume, as well as taking advantages of long summer days and warm weather.