The effect of exercise on mental health
People often associate exercise with the physical benefits it can bring, such as losing weight or gaining muscle. However, recent studies have shown that there is an increasing benefit of exercise on mental health and therefore may not just have physical advantages.
What benefits does exercise have?
Depression and memory
Exercise is said to treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressants without the risk of side effects. This is because exercise releases endorphins into your brain that make you feel good, energised and can also serve as a distraction to take away the negative thoughts that fuel depression. These same endorphins can also help you to increase concentration and give you a sharper memory. This stimulates the growth of new brain cells and will help you to maintain your memory for longer.
Exercise can also be used as an excellent anti-anxiety treatment because it helps to relieve tension and stress and can boost mental energy. Physical activity allows the muscles to relax and therefore relieves tension in the body. Making sure you increase your heart rate several times a week will boost your energy, even if you only do it for a few minutes a day!
Self esteem and sleep
Working out is often associated with increasing your self esteem. Even by meeting just small fitness goals, you will feel a sense of achievement which always has a fantastic impact on your mental health. Exercise can help to regulate your sleep patterns and if you sleep better, you often have more energy the next day.
How much exercise do I need to do?
Even a small amount of exercise can achieve noticeable differences to your mental health. To start with, by just doing 10-15 minutes daily you will slowly build up enough energy to go for longer. If you do not have time to do exercise during the week, studies have shown that people who do intense exercise at weekends can create as many benefits as those who do it daily.
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