The benefits of exercise are truly endless. Physical activity is an all-encompassing pathway to improved health, both physically and mentally. The majority of the population is educated on all of the physical benefits that exercise offers; increased mobility, weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, greater confidence…the list goes on and on. But what about the mental health aspect of exercise?
Exercise, Anxiety and Depression
An alarming number of people suffer from anxiety and depression, often feeling as though the only solution is to reach for their physician’s number and immediately get put on medication. Negative emotions and a chemical imbalance lead to a sedentary lifestyle (who would want to workout when they feel there is no reason?). The medications they are taking likely is causing serious side effects that also prevents them from finding the motivation to start any kind of physical activity.
The downward spiral of suffering from a mental illness can seem inevitable, but treating the root cause of these feelings can vastly improve mental health in comparison to masking the symptoms with anti-depressants or other mood-altering medications.
Exercise and the Role in Mental Health
I always turn to evidence-based research when it comes to health and wellness, and there are countless studies proving that exercise does indeed improve mental health in numerous ways. How exactly does this work?
Think of the brain like a muscle. When you are exercising, you’re pumping blood to your brain which increases the circulation to multiple systems responsible for your mood. The limbic system (motivation and mood), your amygdala (responsible for your fear response to stress) and the hippocampus (cognitive ability and mood) are all “worked out” when you start exercising.
The brain truly is a miraculous muscle; with continued exercise, it can actually generate new brain cells which leads to an increase in mental energy and creativity.
Exercise and Brain Chemicals
With all of this comes chemical changes as well. Exercise increases your endorphin levels and decreases your cortisol levels. What does that mean? You feel happier and you stress less! Cortisol is the hormone responsible for wreaking havoc on your body when you’re experiencing stressful situations. A small amount is normal, but being in a constant state of stress effects your body as whole. You sleep worse, you physically appear worn down and your internal organs all suffer when cortisol spikes.
Enter exercise, the best medicine to fight against this! Your brain will thank you for relieving its stress and allowing your mind to regain clarity and happiness from simply choosing to exercise.
Exercise and Sleep
Yet another mental health benefit of exercise is improved quality of sleep. Your body heals itself overnight, but it can’t do that if you’re not sleeping restfully. By exercising regularly your body regains its normal circadian rhythm, which allows you to sleep soundly. This in turn increases your mental alertness and decreases your stress.
By increasing your heart rate just 30 minutes a day three times a week, you can actually reverse damage to your brain by stimulating norepinephrine (responsible for improving your mood). This truly proves that you are treating your mental health at the root, not just putting a band aid on the problem by masking it with medication or ignoring your feelings completely.
If you still feel that you just can’t bring yourself to exercise, try to set goals for those 30 minutes that you need to get your heart rate up. Break it apart into ten-minute increments. You could easily walk briskly around your block or down the street for ten minutes. I promise it will get easier as time goes on, and before you know it you will be experiencing the countless benefits of exercise in relation to your mental health!
It’s important to focus on yourself, especially when it comes to your overall well-being.
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
Guest blog written by – Nicole Cerrini RN
A Selection of Our Inner Origin Products
My Mag Essentials Magnesium Lotion Rose Geranium 100ml
Get Conscious Book by Ali Walker
QuantumBio Health Mat
bodhi ORGANIC TEA TranquiliTEA 70g Box
bodhi ORGANIC TEA SereniTEA 40g Box
Hemp Oz Hemp Soothing Tea – Sleep (Relax & Unwind)
Lively Living Organic Essential Oil Relaxation 10ml
About Groceries For Health
Groceries for Health are a proud Inner Origin Advocate. Inner Origin products have been selected with care and follow strict guidelines to adhere to our philosophy.
This is a secure Australian site allowing you, the customer, to purchase the products and have them delivered direct to your door.
You shop, we pack and deliver.