3 MIN READ | Health Psychology

Tommy Williamson

How Exercising and Physical Activity Can Help You Improve Your Mental Health

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Tommy Williamson, (2021, June 1). How Exercising and Physical Activity Can Help You Improve Your Mental Health. Psychreg on Health Psychology. https://www.psychreg.org/exercising-physical-activity-mental-health/
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Everyone knows that exercise and diet play a great role when it comes to physical health. The benefits of physical activity are endless; exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers, aid in weight control, regulate insulin and blood sugar levels, increase bone and muscle strength, and even help you live longer. However, not many people know how rewarding exercise can be for your mind. Besides helping you keep your learning, judgement, and cognitive skills sharp even as you age, physical activity can do wonders for your mental health. As you exercise, your body releases chemicals that promote feelings of relaxation and improve your mood. These chemicals can help you overcome stress and lower your risks of developing depression.

Exercise and mood

Physical activity, according to mentalhealth.org, has been proven to have a positive correlation with our mood. They explain that one study asked a group of people to rate their mood right after they partake in physical activities of any sort, such as going for walks and even cleaning, and after they spend long periods of time being inactive, like watching television. The results of this study showed that participants exhibited a range of positive emotions, such as happiness, and calmness, in addition to feeling more energized, after carrying out physical activity in comparison to periods of limited activity. The researchers who conducted this study also noticed that the most significant results on one’s mood occur when a person’s mood is already low, to begin with.

Generally speaking, there are also numerous studies that focus on examining the effects of exercises with different levels of intensities on mood. If you want to improve your overall mood using exercise, the best way to do so would be by doing low-intensity aerobic exercises for thirty to thirty-five minutes a day, three to five days a week. If you stay consistent, you should be able to feel the impact on your levels of enthusiasm, alertness, and other positive moods in around ten to twelve weeks. 

Exercise and stress

Events and incidents that make us feel unsafe or threatened can trigger our body’s defences. This results in what is known as the stress response, which would further affect our emotions and behaviour. With the stress response in action, we tend to experience and feel our emotions more deeply and intensely. A few of the first common signs of stress are disrupted sleeping patterns, appetite loss, and sweating. These issues are set in motion by the sudden surge of stress hormones throughout the body, which you may also know as the ‘fly-or-fight response’. Adrenaline and non-adrenaline are the two types of hormones that elevate our heart rate, increase our blood pressure, raise our perspiration rate, and prepare our body for urgent responses. 

Other symptoms include decreased stomach activity and blood flow to the skin. Meanwhile, cortisol, which is a third stress hormone, starts working on boosting our energy by releasing sugar and fat into our system. With the fast-paced world in which we live, keeping our stress levels under control can be almost impossible.

Fortunately, the trainers at https://gmb.io/ say that you can find a training program that suits your needs. Physical activity is one of the best ways to relieve stress. According to research on the correlation between high levels of work-related stress and free-time physical activity, people who are generally active are subject to less stress when compared to inactive individuals. 

Exercise and self-esteem

Exercise can have significant effects on our self-esteem. Self-esteem is one of the most important mental health markers; it reflects our ability to deal with different stressors and serves as a reflection of the kind of relationship that we have with ourselves. Self-esteem, in a nutshell, is how we feel and what we think about ourselves- it is our perception of our own self-worth. Physical activity can be linked to improved self-worth and self-esteem. Anyone who is physically active, including children, teens, young adults, adults, and elderly people, regardless of gender, is likely to feel more confident than inactive individuals. 

Final thoughts

The benefits of exercise and physical activity are endless. It is an undeniable fact that in order to obtain a healthy body, you must consistently partake in physical activity. What many people don’t know is that to maintain a healthy mind and ensure mental wellbeing, you should also remain physically active. The next time you feel down, remember to take a stroll around your neighbourhood. You will notice changes in your mood almost immediately.


Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He is interested in mental health and well-being.


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