Exercise is an important part of maintaining good physical health, but it has also been shown to have positive effects on mental and emotional health. People coping with anxiety, depression, and ADHD experience promising results through regular exercise.  Benefits include better sleep, boosts mood, improved memory, and natural stress relief. People of all ages can benefit and even just moderate movement a few times a week can make a difference.


Exercise Benefits for Mental Health


Exercise is a significant factor in maintaining overall well-being. People may exercise to keep up or change their physical appearance, but few say they engage in it because it helps them feel good and boosts natural energy.  These elements have a lot to do with mental health and people dealing with mental health challenges may find exercise as a great form of natural medicine. Here are ways in which it helps with common mental health illnesses:


  • Depression: Many studies have shown that exercise can help people with depression.  Some say it is just as effective as using antidepressants. It helps calm depression symptoms, reduces inflammation, and with a routine it can reduce the risk of depression relapse. The brain benefits because more endorphin chemicals are produced, creating a feel good mood. Exercise also helps keep negative thoughts at bay because it is a positive distraction.
  • Anxiety: Stress and tension get naturally relieved or reduced through exercise. Mental and physical energy gets a natural boost. People using mindfulness strategies learn to focus on their body and how they feel during exercise. Doing so creates a useful distraction, interrupting the constant flow of worries and excessive thinking.
  • Stress: Do you notice that when you get stressed out, your body is full of tension and tight muscles? Exercise can naturally loosen muscle tightness.  Such relief can help reduce the risk of other problems too much stress can bring such as insomnia and stomachaches.  Between the mind and body, stress can make things difficult mentally and physically and this becomes a back and forth cycle. Break the cycle with exercise and when your body feels good, your mind will too.


Other conditions such as ADHD and PTSD also benefit from exercise. Elements such as memory, mood, motivation, and concentration can be improved.  The nervous system of people living with PTSD can benefit from exercise by helping relieve and improve joints, nerves, and overall, how the body responds to stress.  Activities such as swimming, running, walking on beach sand, dancing, and weight training have been helpful for PTSD patients.


Exercise Benefits for Emotional Health


Emotional health has a great connection to mental health. In some cases, such aspects are connected or interchangeable. When considering exercise, it improves areas that can help you feel good about yourself, particularly personal behavior. The following points provide other perspectives on how exercise improves emotional health:


  • Build resilience.  Mental and emotional challenges can drain natural energy, but exercise presents a healthy option for coping.  It helps reduce stress impact and your immune system gets a boost too.
  • Increase self-esteem. Your mind, body, and soul benefit from exercise and it is considered a great way to invest in each area that contributes to your self-esteem.  You gain mental and physical strength while feeling more powerful and comfortable with who you are and how you look. You gain a sense of achievement when you complete exercise goals.
  • Thinking and memory get sharper. Endorphins help the brain become sharper, allowing you to concentrate better when completing tasks.  Studies have shown that exercise may slow down the decline that comes with age.
  • Improved sleep and increased energy.  Sleep patterns become regulated and each time you exercise your heart rate increases. Exercises such as stretches, yoga, and light or short sessions are helpful.


Learning about the benefits of exercise can be motivating, but many admit that they lose motivation to exercise or they have a hard time warming up to the idea of doing it regularly.  It is easy to enjoy exercise benefits, and it’s not as difficult as you think to get started.


Exercise Obstacles and How to Overcome Them


Sometimes mental health issues get in the way of starting and maintaining a routine like exercising.  Getting in the habit of exercising doesn’t have to be difficult and in the beginning, it doesn’t require too much effort. If you are willing to make changes that will help your mental and emotional health, you will find easy ways to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle. You can work to complete 15 to 30 minutes of exercise a few days a week.  Here are ways to get past common barriers when starting exercise:

  • Exercise on weekends if you don’t have time during the week.
  • When stressed or exhausted, try walking for 5 minutes.
  • When you feel overwhelmed or depressed, think about a physical activity you can do in a short period.
  • Do low-impact movements when you feel hopeless.  Such moves are good if you don’t have experience exercising.
  • Start small with simple exercises and take advantage of doing them during the time of day when you have the most energy.

Daily activities such as cleaning, gardening and playing with the kids are great ways to incorporate regular physical exercise. Such activities give you a starting point on how to maintain physical activity. Do activities you will be comfortable doing such as walking laps, bike riding or walking with a friend or pet.  Reward yourself when you complete a session and consider ways to include others to make it socially engaging.

Share Button