‘Exercise is good for you,’ a choir of adult voices hammered it in throughout your lifetime. But it is almost as if everyone expects you to take this as a given. Sure enough, it is not hard to dig up a plethora of articles and studies that explain how physical exercise improves your health, but there are also at least 5 ways it boosts your mental health too.
1. Energy requires energy
You’ll rarely see happy people constantly stuck inside their home, comfortably clutching their couch pillows. If you were to take a more philosophical stance and throw the broadest idea out there about the mental benefits of physical activity, the first one that is usually worth mentioning is that energy requires energy.
Sounds a bit alchemical, doesn’t it? Well, it is rather simple: you need to spend energy and discover the limits of your body to infuse it with more energy. Among other things, more energy means that you will also gain mental strength and integrity to battle mental health issues. In turn, an improved mental attitude will fuel your performance in a mutually beneficial circle.
2. If grants you a ‘control’ over your own body
Let’s kick this off with an example. It is not a novel concept that the health benefits of muscle fitness pave the way to a more fulfilling life, in a way that many types of exercises do. It encourages a solid foundation for both physical and mental development, but it also has its specific edge – it helps you build a pronounced muscular body akin to the athletic ideals of classical Greece.
Of course, intense muscle and strength exercises are the most effective way to reach this goal, but that’s only if this is a path that appeals to you. You are not obliged (nor is it healthy) to hold yourself up to any standard but your own.
Physical activity grants you control over your own body in an unprecedented way, and regaining this control – to sculpt yourself in whichever way you see fit and to whatever extent you find appealing – is what can often free our minds.
3. It boosts confidence
When your mind sheds the turmoil of feeling trapped in your own body, as it has been mentioned in the item above, you will suddenly find out something surprising about yourself – physical activity is boosting your confidence.
This will not be a sudden change, but it will have a profound impact on your life. This does not only occur because you suddenly feel in control, but also because of a palpable sense of progress. You will have a concrete, physical evidence of your efforts as your figure changes, but this is not all.
Regular physical activity strengthens your musculature, which leads to less chronic pain, which is a major contributor to mental health issues.
4. Rage against depression
Complex mammals depend on movement. Movement is built into the core of their biology, so not to move often entails profound effects on the overall mental state. You should see yourself as a machine that is perfectly designed to live in a dynamic environment that tests physical limits.
Weak musculature leads to chronic pain and inflammation, and this contributes to the underlying feeling of stress, anxiety, and ultimately – depression. If you take up the most basic, moderate workout routine, and spread it out throughout the week in form of three sessions, there is a strong probability that you will begin feeling a lot better if you are suffering from depression.
A workout is the best antidepressant, and it is usually prescribed by doctors as a complementary companion to therapy.
5. Keeps you sharp and steady
Do you feel as if the blurred lines have started to disappear? Are you thinking surprisingly clearly? Has your tongue become as precise and sharp as your thoughts? If the answer to all of these questions is a resounding ‘yes’, you have started reaping the cognitive benefits of regular exercise.
It improves circulation to your brain, which means more oxygen and food for the brain cells, and it encourages the production of happiness hormones. Cognitive sharpness, learning ability, creativity – all of these factors get better with exercising! This alone should be a reason enough to start training.
Beginnings can be hard. Settling yourself into a workout routine will feel like a ton bricks on your back at first, but you are playing the long game here. Sooner than you think, you’ll feel the hints of benefits mentioned above, and it will take some time before they develop to the fullest. And that is only the beginning of the way physical activity improves your lifestyle quality.