Five ways exercise can improve your mental health

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There is significant evidence showing how effective exercise is in improving mental health. 

From depression and anxiety to ADHD and PTSD, moving our bodies can alleviate the symptoms of mental disorders.

Moving your body doesn’t always have to be an exercise. It can be any activity that increases your heart rate and works your muscles, such as; dancing, resistance training, yoga, running, cycling, aerobics, and even some household activities such as cleaning or gardening.

Your body and mind are inseparably connected, so when you have a good relationship with regular movement, you start noticing an improvement in your brain activity and mental health.

Here are the five ways exercising or moving can improve your mental health.

Boosts your mood

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Chemicals play a significant role in your brain when it comes to mood disorders. That’s why what you eat and drink is important, as well as moving your body.

For example, a brisk walk in the sunshine can prompt your brain to release serotonin – helping you feel calmer and happier.

Additionally, exercise increases the production of endorphins that are known to block pain and increase sensations of pleasure.

The great thing about naturally boosting your mood with exercise is it doesn’t matter how advanced you are in a sport or how intense your workout is! You can benefit from any sort of exercise.

Exercise activates frontal regions of the brain that help control the amygdala – the home of our “fight or flight” response. When you exercise regularly, you train your brain to become naturally better at regulating emotions. This is particularly great for people who struggle with anxiety. 

Makes you more energetic

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One of the most well-known symptoms of depression is feeling tired no matter how much you sleep.

When you’re suffering from depression, exercise might be the last thing on your mind. But as explained above, it’s proven to improve your mood. Not only that, but exercise can also increase your energy levels.

Even after a week of regular exercise, you can see an improvement and start feeling more energetic.

Exercising regularly strengthens your muscles, boosts the cardiovascular system, and improves lung health, all of which contribute to your energy levels. It can also help you get more deep sleep, especially if you have a set exercise and sleep schedule. 

Improves attention and focus

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People with mental disorders such as ADHD have difficulties paying attention and staying focused.

Studies show that exercise can ‘work like a drug’ and improve attention and focus for a few hours following the activity.

It can also help get rid of the built-up energy in the body and provide a healthy outlet to feel less anxious or stressed.

Doctors recommend complex exercises for people with ADHD or similar attention disorders.

Gets you out of your head

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Another benefit of exercise for people suffering from anxiety or depression is that exercise lets them get out of their heads. 

Overthinking and negative thought patterns can affect your mood and make you feel stuck. Exercising helps you de-stress and empty your mind.

Exercises that require a good focus, following steps, or engaging with others can make you focus on the present rather than the past, future, or a bothersome situation in your life.

Engaging in team sports can help those struggling with feelings of loneliness and those with low self-esteem to improve their outlook on themselves.

Helps you sleep better

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It’s been proven that regular exercise improves sleep quality because it helps you relax.

People who struggle with stress, anxiety, or mood disorders often report they suffer from bad sleep too. But exercising can reduce the effects of each overtime, and it can quickly improve sleep quality.

Whether you do aerobic exercises alone or combined with resistance training, exercise can help you sleep better when you do it regularly. 

In fact, recent research shows exercising helped cure insomnia patients.

Although the movement is a great addition to your self-care routine and can help improve mood disorders, we recommend you to speak to a specialist if your symptoms are recurring.

Our team of professionals specializes in deep-seated issues such as addiction and trauma that can be resolved through various psychological treatments.

To find out more about how our expert team can help you or someone you know, please get in touch with us today.

Lisa Davies - Program Director of Vaughan Recovery and Kirby Estate

About Lisa Davies

Lisa is the Program Director at Centres for Health and Healing. She lived for most of her life in the Durham region, before moving to Peel five years ago.

Lisa is a Master Hypnotist and is certified in Hypnotherapy (2008), Self-Hypnosis and in 5-phase Advanced Therapeutic Healing. As a Member of National Guild of Hypnotists, she is also specialized in hypnosis training in pediatrics, pain management, neuro-linguistic and stage programming.

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