3 MIN READ | Health Psychology

The Importance of Physical Exercise for Mental Well-being

Dennis Relojo-Howell

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Dennis Relojo-Howell, (2020, August 10). The Importance of Physical Exercise for Mental Well-being. Psychreg on Health Psychology. https://www.psychreg.org/physical-exercise-mental-well-being/
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It’s very easy for people to compartmentalise things. They may say that exercise is great for reducing weight and the chances of having a heart attack or stroke. When it comes to mental health, people assume it’s all down to having a positive mindset. 

The reality is that our bodies are our temples. How we feel inside affects our health, and our level of fitness will affect how we feel. Here are some of the many benefits that physical exercise can have for our mental health. 

A sense of achievement

When we struggle with our minds, it can be hard to maintain a healthy daily routine. We may feel depressed about that pile of ironing that’s been left for several days. When we actually do it, we feel exhilarated. The same goes for exercise. It seems like a grind beforehand but makes us feel happier after. It releases endorphins and other chemicals in our bodies that make us feel high and happy, without drugs being involved. Our moods become lifted and our depression reduced. We feel more able to take on the world.

People are boosted when they incorporate exercise into their daily routines. They can do things like press-ups and step exercises without needing sports equipment. Many people pay to go to the gym, while others create one at home. The professionals at FlexMasterGeneral.com helpfully display the equipment one can buy, but also clarify ways to avoid injury. They also review fitness apps that can be harnessed to the whole process. It can be a pleasant escape to have a room devoted exclusively to keeping fit.  

Increased connection

Going to the gym or a sports club increases the possibility of making new friends and having a chat with people. There’s also the boost that comes with winning and overcoming challenges. We are also reminded that more things are going on in the world than just our issues. 

Some people join Facebook groups devoted to keeping fit. They are like communities devoted to sharing tips and encouraging one another along the journey. Once again, it’s a chance to make new friends and communicate. 

Better sleep and self-esteem

Many people go to bed with their brains tired, but their bodies are still energized. Others depend on prescription sleeping tablets and antidepressants to get through the night. The great news is that physical exercise is equally effective, without any of the side effects. 

If we are unfit and overweight, we will feel gloomy about ourselves and our appearance. Regular exercise will help shed a few pounds and improve our general appearance. When people look great, they are more likely to feel great. They’ll also be more active and mobile, and willing to go out in the evenings where it was previously a struggle. It can help people from all age groups or genders. 

It’s fun and it reduces medical risks

To keep fit we don’t have to do things we dislike. If someone appreciates nature, they can briskly walk five times a week, in half an hour sessions. A basketball hoop is easy enough to set up in the garden, and all the family can have fun playing together. Some music lovers could consider doing dance routines. When the body is disciplined in keeping time it will help with fitness levels. The mind switches off during the process, which can be great for breaking cycles of negative thoughts. 

Dementia, memory loss or Alzheimer’s are illnesses that fit people are up to a third less likely to develop. Even if it’s ‘too late’ and someone now has such a condition, the process can be slowed through doing exercise. 

ADHD, PTSD, and depression

The most widely known strategy for addressing ADHD is the use of such drugs as Ritalin or Adderall. Interestingly, tests have shown that regular exercise can be equally as effective. This is because our focus and improved attention occur when our levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are boosted through workouts. 

PTSD can trap people in unhelpful automatic trigger responses. When people do outdoor sports they are more likely to become mindful of their bodies. This will include their temperature, heart rate, and how their muscles are feeling. This mindfulness can detach people from the PTSD responses and liberate them in new ways. It is possible to reduce the likelihood of experiencing major depression by a quarter through exercising. 

If people have not been doing exercise they should first see a doctor. This is particularly true if there are existing medical conditions including eating disorders or heart problems. For many people, the benefits of keeping fit can be amazing, both for their bodies and their minds.

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Image credit: Freepik


Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He interviews people within psychology, mental health, and well-being on his YouTube channel, The DRH Show.

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