When it comes to getting fit, the reason that most people start a fitness regime is improve their physical health, slim down, tone up, or train for a sports event. While getting fit is a great way to do all of those things, what a lot of people don’t realize is that getting fit also has a positive impact on the mind.
For over a decade, scientists have been researching the impact that regular exercise has on our mental state. So far, studies have shown that getting yourself into peak physical fitness comes with an array of benefits for your mental health.
Research has also shown that one of the main things that motivates people to stay active isn’t having a healthier body or being more toned, it’s the mental health benefits that come with exercise. Yes, looking good is great, but feeling good is just as important, maybe even more important.
So, with that in mind, below is a list of the different ways that getting fit can help to give your mind a health boost. If a healthy mindset isn’t motivation for being more active, nothing is. The question is, what are the benefits that people who exercise regularly see, in terms of their mental health?
Feeling less stressed
Had a bad day at work? Argued with your partner? Worrying about the kids? A quick workout could be the answer to de-stressing and feeling better. Whether you choose to head to the gym, attend a yoga class, or go for a walk with the dog, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that by being physically active and increasing your fitness levels, you will begin to feel less stressed. This is partly because exercise encourages the production of norepinephrine, a chemical that helps the brain to moderate stress levels and keeps you feeling calmer. So not only can working out help you to relax when you’re already feeling stressed, but it can also improve your ability to deal with stress in the future.
Research has also shown that exercise can make you feel happier. Yes, working out can be hard, but afterward, once the workout is over, you should feel happier and more content. This is because exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy, which is why people who exercise on a regular basis tend to be happier than people who don’t. Studies have shown that the power of endorphins can even help to improve the moods of people suffering from depression, which means that they must be pretty powerful. It’s not about working out like crazy; it’s about exercising on a regular basis, ensuring that you’re active as often as possible, even if for short periods of time. Remember, the type of exercise you do doesn’t matter, whether it’s playing a team sport, practicing pilates, or attending a swimming class – just as long as you’re being active, that’s all that matters.
Having more confidence
There’s no doubt about it, getting physically fit can help to boost confidence and self-esteem. A lot of people presume that this is because when you’re physically active, you tend to be in better shape than when you’re not exercising on a regular basis, and are more trim and toned. While this does play a part in feeling more confident when you exercise regularly, it’s also down to the fact that regular exercise makes you feel better in yourself, increasing your self-worth and boosting your confidence. Being confident isn’t just about how you look, it’s also about how you feel, and it’s important to realize that.
Every now and then, we all feel anxious. Maybe you’re heading out on a first date, perhaps you’ve got an exam to sit, or maybe you’re starting a new job – it’s normal to feel a little anxious. However, what’s not normal is feeling anxious all the time. Studies have shown that in the US, over 40 million adults suffer from anxiety – that’s a huge chunk of the population. While a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that the best way to calm someone suffering from anxiety is to help them to relax, actually exercise has been proven to be more effective in the long-run. The chemicals that the body releases during exercise have been proven to help people suffering from anxiety to calm down, both in a moment of severe anxiety and also in the long-term. You see, studies have shown that people who have anxiety and exercise regularly are twice as likely as people who have anxiety and don’t exercise, to lead a happier life.
Have sharper memories
Scientists have discovered that taking part in regular physical activity gives your memory a boost, making it more likely that you will remember things more clearly. The reason for this is because as we are exercising, the production of cells in the hippocampus, increases – this is the part of the mind that is responsible for memory. A study has shown that among adults who spring regularly, it’s easier for them to learn and remember new words, compared to adults who don’t regularly exercise.
Able to focus more easily
Do you ever have those days where you feel completely and utterly uninspired? Do you ever feel like no matter what you do, you can’t focus? Well, you’ve guessed it, exercise can help with that too. Studies have shown that people who take the time to exercise on a regular basis tend to be able to focus more easily, and are also more productive. Research also shows that the best time to exercise is halfway through the day, during your lunch hour. Although it might be difficult to squeeze a workout into your lunch hour, if you are able to manage to, the chances are you will do better at work because of it. Research has also identified that if nootropics are used in conjunction with exercise to improve focus, as the 101nootropics website suggests, the results achieved can be even better. Who would have thought that exercise and some carefully selected supplements could make focusing on work, and also other tasks, that much easier?
Although some people find exercising too close to bedtime can lead to insomnia for many others it can have the opposite effect. Studies have shown that for some people, spending an hour at the gym, half an hour swimming, or even going for a quick bike ride, can aid relaxation, making falling asleep much quicker and easier. The reason that exercise helps to aid relaxation is because working out increases your body temperature, and then when you finish working out your temperature drops, making your body think that it’s time to relax or even sleep, as our body temperatures tend to drop slightly at night. So, if you’re someone who struggles to relax, regular exercise could be the answer.
Be more creative
This might not seem like it’s linked to a healthy mind, but actually, creativity and mindset are closely linked. Scientists have found that for two to three hours after a workout, our minds are much more creative and open to creativity. Various studies have also shown that creativity can be a sign of happiness, as well as being a great way to reduce stress. Once you’ve worked out, you feel refreshed, which is what many scientists believe causes you to be able to be more creative after a workout than normal.
Another benefit of participating in regular exercise is that you will have more energy. Research has shown that by working out and raising your heartbeat three or more times a week, you will begin to have more energy. The key to building energy through exercise is starting slowly because at first, you will most probably feel more tired than anything else. However, over time as your stamina increases, you should find that regular exercise helps to give your energy levels a boost. It doesn’t matter what form of exercise it is that you choose to do, from Crossfit to trampolining, it doesn’t matter how you work out. All that matters is that you take things slowly at the start, as you build up your strength, stamina, and energy levels, and start feeling better in yourself.
Getting physically fit is something that can take a lot of time and effort, but don’t let that put you off. If you want to improve both your mental and physical health, taking the time to be more active and get in better shape is worth it. The fact is that when you’re active, your mental health is greatly improved, as is your physical health. As mentioned above, studies have shown that regular exercise reduces stress, makes anxiety more manageable, boosts confidence, and improves focus, among many other things. So making the time to be physically active on a regular basis is important, both for your physical and mental health. As a rule of thumb, aim to spend around five hours a week exercising, and you should see the benefit.