Mental Wellbeing: Exercise and the Brain

It’s no secret that exercise does wonders for your physical wellbeing, changing your external appearance as well as improving your energy levels and sleep schedules. However, what is not as well-known is the effect exercise can have on your mental wellbeing. Physical wellbeing and mental wellbeing are closely linked, and by looking after your body, you are able to look after your mind.

 

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals which have a positive effect on your mental state. The more physically fit we become the better we can regulate stress hormones, such as cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released from our bodies when we experience anxiety. Over longer periods, higher cortisol levels have been linked to a variety of physical health issues, including heart disease and high blood pressure, as well as mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety.

 

Our body also releases chemicals called endorphins during exercise. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in your brain after intense exercise and are often known as a “runner’s high”. This chemical is known to boost your mindset, allowing an energised and positive outlook. Higher self-esteem levels are also linked to endorphins, it’s positive effect on the mind encouraging people to think more confidently about themselves. Endorphins in particular have been linked to depression, as they have been said to improve this particular mental illness.

 

Alongside increased confidence and better mental and physical wellbeing, exercise is also said to improve energy levels. As you raise your activity levels, your body starts to adapt to working more, and so provides you with a natural energy boost. This can help with improving tiredness, as some researchers have argued that very low levels of exercise can be highly beneficial if you are especially tired. This leads to an improved sleeping pattern, as activity during the day is said to improve sleep during the night. Both of these side effects are linked to mental health, as poor sleeping patterns are often linked to illnesses such as depression. Improved energy levels and sleep quality is said to improve your mental state and also increase your productivity in everyday life.

 

The phrase “healthy body, healthy mind” is an accurate one to say the least. Exercise really does have the most positive effect on you mental wellbeing, so get out there and do it. When it comes to your mental health, nothing is more important, and looking after your physical health is a great way to look after it.

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