Scientists have pondered how exercising can boost brain function. Regardless of age or fitness, studies show that making time for exercise provides some serious mental benefits. Working out can benefit mental health, relationships and lead to a healthier and happier life overall. Here are some benefits:
1 Reduce stress
Rough day at the office? Take a walk or head to the gym for a quick workout. One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Working up a sweat can help manage physical and mental stress. Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.
2 Boost happy chemicals
Exercise releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed. For this reason, doctors recommend that people suffering from depression or anxiety pencil in plenty of gym time.
3 Improve self-confidence
On a very basic level, physical fitness can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Regardless of weight, size, gender or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person’s perception of his or her attractiveness, that is, self-worth.
4 Enjoy the great outdoors
For an extra boost of self-love, take that workout outside as exercising outdoors can increase self-esteem even more. Find an outdoor workout that fits your style, whether it’s rock-climbing, hiking, renting a canoe or just taking a jog in the park. Plus, all that Vitamin D acquired from soaking up the sun can lessen the likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms.
5 Prevent cognitive decline
It is unpleasant, but it’s true – as we get older, our brains get a little. . . hazy. As aging and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s kill off brain cells, the noggin shrinks, losing many important brain functions in the process. While exercise and a healthy diet can’t “cure” Alzheimer’s, they can help shore up the brain against cognitive decline that begins after age 45. Working out, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.
6 Alleviate anxiety
The warm and fuzzy chemicals that are released during and after exercise can help people with anxiety disorders calm down. Hopping on the track or treadmill for some moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety sensitivity.
Many people hit the gym or pound the pavement to improve cardiovascular health, build muscle and an end up with an amazing body, but working out has other benefits too.