How is Exercise Beneficial to Your Mental Health?

by Webmd Men Staff
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Do you prefer to spend your weekends playing video games to going for a run? Do you dislike walking so much that you drive to the store just five minutes away on foot? Are you aware that exercise can help you live longer and enjoy your life better?

Exercise does a lot of good for the body. If you exercise on a regular basis, you can:

  • Lose weight faster
  • Build stronger bones and muscles
  • Improve your heart health
  • Manage your stress levels better
  • Keep your energy up
  • Enhance brain function
  • Reduce the risk of infections and diseases
  • Boost immunity
  • Have better stamina, endurance, balance, and flexibility

Did you know that exercise is also greatly beneficial to your mental health?

Exercise can help with depression

Various studies have found that exercise can benefit people suffering from mild to moderate depression. According to their findings, regular physical activity has proven to be as effective as the commonly prescribed antidepressant medications — minus all the negative side effects.

In one study, people who ran for at least 15 minutes a day or walked about an hour a day showed a reduced risk of major depression by as much as 26%. They also manifested fewer symptoms of depression and avoided relapsing.

Every time you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are strong and powerful chemicals in the brain that make you feel energized and good. You are also helping your body build a shield against inflammation, nerve problems, and other complications.

Exercise is a good anti-anxiety treatment

outdoor plankingIf you are constantly feeling disproportionate levels of worry, fear, panic, nervousness, apprehension, and other emotions, you may have anxiety. It causes several signs and symptoms — such as increased heart rate, feeling restless, trembling, sweating, and rapid breathing — that may prevent you from performing your usual day-to-day tasks.

But, if you exercise, you can release more endorphins, relieving all the stress and tension and alleviating these symptoms. You can also boost your mental power and energy, allowing you to think more clearly and feel calmer.

Exercise is highly recommended for those suffering from PTSD

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a type of anxiety disorder caused by extremely distressing, frightening, or stressful situations. If you have it, you will often relive the trauma that you have experienced through flashbacks and nightmares, resulting in you feeling very guilty, irritable, upset, angry, or isolated.

Over the years, many studies have been conducted to focus on the effects of exercise on PTSD patients, and they found that regular physical activity can actually help. If you exercise, you can steer your focus away from your negative thoughts and move it to the physical sensations that your muscles and joints have.

The best exercises for PTSD are those that involve both the arms and the legs. Some good examples are swimming, dancing, running, weight training, and brisk walking.

Exercise can reduce stress levels

Stress can do a lot of harm and damage to one’s health if it is not handled properly. It causes various physical and psychological side effects that can significantly lower quality of life. If you are always stressed, your muscles are tensed, you get headaches frequently, you have that constant tight feeling in your chest, your heart rate or breathing is faster, or you have trouble sleeping at night. You also have an increased risk of mood swings, reduced sex drive, and mental health problems.

According to many research studies, the endorphins released during exercise can lower stress levels, helping relieve the tension in the muscles and facilitate relaxation in the whole body. Once your physical condition improves, your mental health should also experience a positive change.

Exercise can boost memory and concentration

The endorphins released during exercise are not only going to make you feel better, but they are also going to enhance your mental abilities, giving you better memory skills and concentration. With regular exercise, you can promote the growth and development of new brain cells that can slow down age-related brain deterioration.

Some good exercises to do for optimal brain health are aerobic exercises, like swimming and running. They can get your heart working, boost your heart rate, and increase blood flow to the brain, helping raise your mental sharpness.

Exercise promotes better sleep

Health professionals advise that people get around 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night for good overall health and wellbeing. If you lack sleep, you may face plenty of health problems, including increased stress levels, poor mental health, impaired memory and thinking skills, weight gain, increased risk of inflammation, and higher odds of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.

Unfortunately, there are many people who have a hard time getting enough sleep each night. As a result, they become prone to heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and other serious complications. To help fix that, they can try exercising regularly.

According to a study, exercising daily can help in regulating sleep patterns. Even if you just walk for 20 minutes a day, you can reduce your stress levels or symptoms of depression or anxiety, giving your body a chance to enjoy sufficient and uninterrupted slumber each night.

Recommended exercises for mental health

If you want to start exercising to improve your mental health, you can try:

yoga and meditationYoga

This is a type of exercise that promotes relaxation. It involves techniques that are good for easing stress and relieving muscle tension.


This exercise allows you to get into your thoughts, distinguishing which things you really need to focus on. Many studies have found that it is greatly beneficial to people with bipolar disorder, as it can help manage the manic symptoms and promote calmness.


This exercise has been found to help people with schizophrenia by easing the symptoms, such as disorganized mental imagery and impair motor coordination, and promoting smooth thinking and information processing skills.


This exercise has been proven to effectively help boost mental health by increasing endorphins and feelings of happiness. It is most especially powerful if done at a high-intensity level on a regular basis.

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