Exercise for Your Mental Health

By Janice McCurdy, canfitpro PTS/FIS

You are probably aware how great exercise is for our bodies. In fact, if we exercise regularly the benefits are so great we would need pages to name them all. The main benefits of exercise to our physical health include:

1. Maintain and lose weight;
2. Reduces or prevents many diseases including heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and even some cancers;
3. Enhances your mobility, flexibility and balance.

People who exercise are basically healthier and stronger than those who don’t. So, we know what exercise can do for our bodies but did you know what it can also do for our minds?

Here are a few ways that exercise can benefit in brain:

1. Exercise reduces stress, anxiety and pain because it produces changes in the brain that regulate stress and anxiety. It can also increase the brain’s sensitivity for the hormone serotonin. Serotonin relives feelings of depression. It can also release endorphins which help decrease the perception of pain.
2. Exercise increases energy because the endorphins released along with the increased oxygenated blood can help bring your energy levels up.
3. Exercise improves self-confidence. With regular exercise you begin to feel stronger and more capable of getting through the workout. This in turn produces feelings of accomplishment and confidence.
4. Exercise improves brain power – The more we exercise the more oxygen we take in. This helps us to be better able to think and reason. It also helps us to multi-task and even aids in creativity and slows down cognitive decline.
5. Exercise improves sleep because the increase in body temperature and then the post-exercise drop in temperature promotes sleep. It also reduces insomnia by decreasing arousal, anxiety and depressive symptoms. You will then wake up feeling rested and refreshed.

Exercise is great for the body and mind and it may just alleviate the need for anti-depressants or sleep aids which is a great reason to be and stay active. I really love the quote “you are just one workout away from a good mood”. It is so true. It is just another reason to add exercise to your daily to do list.

Note: May 7th to 13th is Mental Health Week – visit the Canadian Mental Health Association website for events and activities taking place in your region: https://www.cmhanb.ca/cmha-mental-health-week/

Posted in wellness.