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Exercise Your Way To Better Mental Health

| Updated: April 9, 2024 12:19

Physical activity can help combat depression, anxiety, ADHD and PTSD

We all know that exercise can work wonders for our physical health. But its benefits for mental health are not so widely discussed. Exercise can improve mood, help you sleep better and enable you to deal with stress, anxiety and depression as well. 

People who exercise regularly do so because it gives them a sense of well-being. They feel more energetic and have sharper memories. Also, they feel more relaxed and positive about themselves. 

Regular exercise is a medicine for many mental health challenges. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to deal with mental health problems and improve your outlook. 

Mental health challenges

Depression: Research has shown that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressants, which have side effects. The main reason for this is that exercise releases endorphins, powerful brain chemicals, that uplift the spirits. Exercise also promotes changes in the brain that lead to feelings of calm and well-being. Finally, exercise can be a distraction from negative thinking. 

Anxiety and stress: Exercise relieves tension and stress and is an effective anti-anxiety treatment as well. By being mindful when you exercise you can curb your worries and fears. 

ADHD: Exercising regularly is one of the most effective ways to reduce the symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Physical activity boosts brain chemicals that improve concentration, motivation, memory and mood. 

PTSD: If you focus on your body when you exercise, you can actually help your nervous system become “unstuck” which will reduce the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder  (PTSD) or trauma. Outdoor forms of exercise are particularly good for people having PTSD.

Other benefits 

Even if you’re not suffering from a mental health problem, regular physical activity can  boost mental well-being.

Mental sharpness: Endorphins help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and curbs age-related decline.

Higher self-esteem: Regular activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. When it becomes a habit, it can foster a sense of self-worth. By meeting even small exercise goals, you’ll feel a sense of achievement.

Better sleep: Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns. At night, relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep. Good sleep is essential for mental well-being. 

Improves resilience: When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you build resilience and cope in a healthy way.

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