How Physical Exercise Benefits Mental Health

We’ve all had those moments where just putting on our shoes and lacing them up to go for a run or to the gym seemed like it took all the strength in the world. “I just don’t feel like it”, or “My body can wait one more day,” are often little excuses we tell ourselves. Though even if our bodies may be able to “wait another day” our mental health is much more fragile. To keep our mind and body in check, we need to remain active. Let’s talk about why. 

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What does exercise offer us? Most of us already know the physical benefits like keeping our weight and body fat in check, reducing our blood pressure and risk of diabetes, more energy, greater mobility and much more. But what are they psychological benefits? There are quite a few. 

  • Helps manage depression and anxiety

If you’re suffering from depression and anxiety, then there may be times where you feel hopeless – like nothing can make it better. However, since physical exercise releases endorphins, which are our “happy” chemical, even 15 minutes of exercise a few times throughout the week can improve the symptoms. There’s a reason why it’s becoming more and more common for physicians to prescribe patients exercise regimens before looking at medications.

  • Reduces stress

This point kind of goes hand in hand with our last one, but is important independently, too. Who doesn’t want to have less stress in their life? Did you know that by raising your heart rate, you can actually reverse brain damage caused by stress? It sounds too good to be true, but by triggering the production of neurohormones such as norepinephrine, our thinking becomes clearer, we become more aware, and our mood gets a little boost.

  • Boost self-esteem and confidence

Have you ever gone a long time from working out and then right after you finally do so, you wonder, “why didn’t I do this earlier?!”. Our bodies love being active, and our self-esteem and confidence skyrocket, even after just 20 minutes of exercise! 

Moreover, this has a kind of snowball effect. The more you exercise, accomplishing physical goals, increasing muscle tone, etcetera, the better you will continue to feel. Noticing your clothes fitting better and seeing a more svelte body staring back at you in the mirror is obviously going to provoke a great feeling. However, what may be even more motivating is being able to walk up a flight of stairs without becoming winded or carrying more grocery bags inside at once. 

  • Clearer Mind/Less Brain Fog

Have you ever felt like no matter how much coffee you drink or how much sleep you get, your brain is just not functioning at 100%? If so, then you’ll probably benefit from taking a quick lap around the office or some squats at your desk. 

Moreover, exercise has actually been proven to enhance intelligence and improve memory. Studies have suggested cardiovascular workouts can create new brain cells, known as “neurogenesis”, which can speed up brain performance while preventing memory loss. 

  • Quality Sleep

Going back to what we were just talking about (a proper night’s sleep), if you’re lacking in this department, exercise can help you out. There is an alarming amount of people suffering from insomnia, and with electronics and smart devices constantly surrounding us it can be hard to shut our minds off. 

However, there is some good news! Physical exercise causes our body temperature to rise, which can help create peace in our minds and calm the chaos many of us live with. This has the excellent side effect of letting you fall asleep quicker. Additionally, your circadian rhythm will be better regulated, causing you to get a deeper sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. No more having to drag yourself out of bed!

Exercise Routines

Studies show that with just 20 minutes of exercise, you can benefit from all of the aforementioned advantages. Walking, running and swimming are some of the easiest activities to partake in, as you don’t need any equipment. However, you are going to need a safe and quiet area to do it in. 

If you must workout inside, try adding in a folding exercise bike or vertical climber into your home gym. In fact, some models are so compact and convenient that you could simply set it up when you’re ready to workout, and fold/move it out of the way. A leisure swim at an Indoor Swimming Pool is also advisable to ensure a whole body workout for a prolonged life. 

While cardio is necessary and oftentimes the most convenient type of exercise, strength training is also crucial to include in your routine. Lifting free weights is one of the best, but if you don’t have any, there are plenty of plyometric exercises to provide strength training and cardio benefits. 


Now that you’ve had the opportunity to read all about the mental benefits that physical exercise offers, have you decided on your new routine? What’s most important is that you just get moving. It doesn’t have to be complex – as long as you’re sweating you’re improving in some way or another. Thanks for tuning in and happy exercising!


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