Daily exercise is vital for your physical health, but did you know it deeply impacts your mental health as well? You’ve probably heard that exercise is therapy, and for good reason. Studies have shown daily exercise can boost your energy levels and decrease the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
While exercise does boost endorphins, the “happy” hormones, its other benefits can attribute to your mental health as well. Let’s look at the many ways daily exercise affects your brain.
Your heart rate increases as you exercise and boosts blood flow. This action pumps more oxygen and nutrient-rich blood into the brain, helping it function better. Your memory and cognitive functions improve, and regular exercise can help ward off diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
During exercise, your body releases molecules that help regulate your sleep, as well. Better sleep? I think we can all agree that’s a bonus.
When you’re under even just a small amount of stress, your body tenses up. You may notice your face, neck, shoulders, or back feel tight during more stressful times. Other unpleasant side effects of stress can include a tightness in the chest, insomnia, and more.
Exercise can help your whole body relieve some tension and relax, allowing those physical symptoms of stress to chill out a bit. And when your physical self is more at ease, your mental health can get a much-needed boost.
Reduce PTSD Symptoms
Focusing on your body and how it feels when you exercise can help you move out of the immobilization stress response that comes from experiencing PTSD. Your mind inevitably wanders when triggered, and that spiral can cause you to feel out of control. Getting your body moving and trying to focus on the movements themselves is a form of meditation. You don’t need to do any wild, intense workouts in order to benefit from this effect. Simply getting outside and walking, doing some light yoga, or even dancing to your favorite music can get the job done.
You Don’t Have To Overdo It
You don’t have to start training for a marathon in order to reap the benefits of daily exercise. In fact, too much exercise can actually undo the hard work you’re putting into boosting your mental health. If you begin to notice a drop in your performance when doing aerobic exercises, your body is likely being worked too hard. An overstressed body can lead to confusion and mood swings. It’s also been found that extreme workouts can lead to heart damage as it puts too much stress on the cardiovascular system.
Starting small if you’re new to a fitness regimen is the best way to go. If you immediately start out with high-intensity training, you will likely have a harder time making that routine stick. Your body will ache, and that muscle fatigue makes it more difficult to get back at it the next day or even two days later. Even just walking briskly for ten minutes around your block every day can lead to results, and from there, you can build on your activity and add on other workouts like yoga, weight lifting, planks, pilates, etc.
The most important thing is that you get in daily activity. Journal your progress or wear a fitness tracker to help you make sure your body is getting what it needs each day. It’s more important that the effort is there rather than to try and become a bodybuilder overnight.
Supplements Can Help!
While there’s no substitute for eating well, taking supplements daily can help give your body a boost and fill in the gaps your diet may be missing. Here are just a few supplements you can try and see if your body is seeing any benefits.
- Vitamin C
- Omega 3
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
How do you feel daily exercise has benefitted your brain function and mental health? What are you go-to workouts or activities that keep you feeling your best? Drop a comment below and let us know what has worked best for you.