How Exercise Helps With Mental Health

One of the big benefits of working out at Biofit Performance in Oviedo, FL, is that good feeling you experience after a tough workout. It’s a combination of stress reduction, happy hormones and a sense of accomplishment. Exercise helps with mental health. It helps boost your emotions and also helps prevent or slow the progress of brain related illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. Exercise has also become an adjunct therapy for people suffering from depression or anxiety.

Let’s start with the effect exercise has on stress.

Everyone has experienced one of those days when “if it could go wrong, it did go wrong” or times when you feel like you are ready to explode even at small things. Normally, that happens because you’re stressed out. Your body is under stress and the fight or flight response already started. What can you do to eliminate that gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach? Working out helps burn off those hormones that got your body ready for running or fighting and get you back to normal.

Exercise also does more than just burn stress hormones.

As you exercise, you’re boosting circulation. That sends more oxygen and nutrient laden blood to all parts of the body, including the brain. It feeds the brain and studies show it can make you more alert, no matter what your age. Brain studies indicate exercise can help boost the production of new neurons in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that has to do with memory, emotion and learning. It also improves neural signaling, growth and connections by increasing neurotrophic factors and neurohormones. Other studies show that not only is it good for depression and anxiety, but it may also help with some issues faced by people with schizophrenia.

While the physical brain changes are part of it, so are the fitness changes you experience.

As you get fitter, you start to look at yourself differently. In fact, just exercising can help bring those changes. One study showed people changed their perception of their self-image within days of starting an exercise program, even before physical changes were apparent. The physical changes you undergo, like better posture, also make a difference. You walk taller and look more confident. When you look more confident, people see you as a confident person.

  • Exercise triggers natural pain relievers like dopamine and serotonin. These hormones make you feel good and are the cause of “runner’s high.” Serotonin improves your sleep, which also affects your mood.
  • Studies indicate that exercise boosts mental functioning and increases cognitive abilities. One study indicated cardio actually caused neurogenesis—the creation of new brain cells.
  • Aerobic exercise boosts circulation and may be the best depression fighter. The harder you work out and the more you sweat, the more endorphins the body makes. However, a recent study of strength training for stroke victims showed marked mood improvement and improved sense of control.
  • Skeletal tension is one way people hold in emotions and don’t deal with problems. Exercise can help relax that tightness. Tai chi and flexibility training can help in that way. If you suffer from severe mental issues, always seek the help of a health care professional.

For more information, contact us today at BioFit Performance

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