How Mental Health can be improved through Physical Activity

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The fact that exercise is good for your body and physical well-being is no news to you. But were you aware that it could considerably improve your mental and emotional health, as well? People suffering from depression, anxiety, ADHD are often advised to indulge in exercises more often. So, next time you feel anxious or low, put on your favourite sportswear, and give your body a good workout.

But, how does it happen? What’s the connection?

Let’s see how exercise helps your brain and mental well-being…

  1. Better Functioning of the Brain – Studies suggest that intense workouts can increase levels of a brain-derived protein called BDNF which helps with decision making. Also, cardiovascular exercises are believed to enhance the performance of the brain.
  2. Better Sleep – If you suffer from insomnia, exercising might work like magic for you. When you exercise you feel tired and drain your energy. In addition to that, your body temperature rises during workouts, and comes down some time after you’re done with it. Your body interprets this drop as a signal to sleep.
  3. Helps Anxiety and Reduce Stress – A mere 20- minute long workout can lead to the release of endorphin, a chemical which triggers positive feelings and is a natural painkiller. Exercising increases blood circulation in the body, allowing blood to flow to the parts of the brain that deal with stress. Have you ever experienced a feeling of relaxation and calm, soon after a workout session? Yep, that’s what we’re talking about.
  4. Prevents Cognitive Decline – Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s worsens with time. Alzheimer’s patients slowly start to forget things; even important functions of the brain can’t be performed due to the degenerated brain cells. While the disease can’t be cured, exercising will release chemicals in the brain that prevent this degeneration. Regular exercising helps you maintain your cognitive abilities, thereby reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and also Dementia, in general.
  5. Boost Confidence Level – If you’re exercising outdoors, you’re interacting with nature. You’re also sometimes bound to interact with people while doing so. Overall, it makes you look more approachable and boosts your confidence. Exercising also makes you healthier and fitter. And when you look fitter, you feel better. All this help in elevating your levels of confidence in all walks of life.

Remember, a healthy mind stays in a healthy body.

 

References:

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/27/mental-health-benefits-exercise_n_2956099.html
https://examinedexistence.com/what-is-bdnf-and-what-does-it-do/

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