Physical exercise has been found to improve mental health as it lowers anxiety, depression and negative moods. At the same time, it improves self-esteem and cognitive function. For those suffering from mental health problems, exercise is almost always recommended by respective professionals to take advantage of the plethora of health benefits that come from it.
The Effects of Exercise on Wellbeing
Humans are built to move, and exercise can improve mental health since it facilitates the release of hormones that make us feel good. While mental health issues are undoubtedly complex, physical activities can help mitigate at least some negative feelings. It helps manage stress, promote sleep quality/duration and improve self-esteem, all of which have positive effects.
As discussed, exercise can help you in many ways. Here’s a small list of how exactly it can do so:
1. It Improves Your Mood
Physical exercise releases serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, hormones that play a key role in regulating mood. Regular exercise helps boost the concentration of these chemicals in your brain, helping you keep a constant and stable positive attitude.
2. It Fosters Better Response to Stress
Doing physical activity releases cortisol, the stress hormone. While cortisol can be bad for you at chronically high levels, regular exercise blunts the body’s response to cortisol.
This means that when cortisol is next released in your body, it will have reduced detrimental impacts as your body will have adapted and can better manage the cortisol.
3. It Helps You Feel Good
Physical exercise releases endorphins, chemicals that interact with receptors in your brain to lower your perception of physical pain. This is similar to pathways stimulated by opioids.
Essentially, it means that strenuous or prolonged physical activity will help you feel good in the long run. Although, you may feel slightly rougher the next day once delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) hits.
4. It Promotes Better Memory
Exercise pumps blood to the brain, helping you think more clearly and improve your memory. This creates a positive impact on mental health problems like depression and other negative moods.
How Much Exercises Should You Do?
If you’re starting new or returning to physical activity, you can start off with three sessions a week, with a rest day between your training days. Doing this slowly introduces your body to an exercise routine and allows for recovery between sessions and high enough training volumes to stimulate a positive adaptation in the body.
Going too hard too soon when you’re first getting back into training is a sub-optimal approach for most as it’s often not sustainable. The key is to choose a path that is sustainable and something you can see yourself doing long-term..
You might feel that the benefits of exercise to your mental health and wellbeing comes gradually or all at once. Some people instantly feel great, while others feel that it slowly increases as they progress. Either way, you shouldn’t lose faith if you don’t achieve that instant high.
More importantly, don’t stop. Just continue getting into the gym and you should see an improvement in your mental health and wellbeing for the long term.
At Avia Performance, we’re big believers in taking a holistic approach to your training. It’s more than just getting physically strong. We have a supportive team of coaches and physical therapists who understand that everyone presents with their own individual issues that often need their own unique and individualised approach.
Everyone that comes through the door for coaching gets their own individualised training plan based off their goals, training history and an initial consultation that involves a movement test. If you’re after coaching whether it be face to face or online, book a consultation to find out more!