Physical Activity for Better Mental Health


Consider this: You have been sitting in your office, working all day from 9 to 5 and binging on some donuts to help you go through the day. You feel all drained and fatigued from all the stress you have encountered all day, and your brain has officially called it off. To put the steam off, you get up from the chair, have a walk to the bathroom, and instantly feel refreshed. Now you must be thinking how as soon as you get up from your desk, you feel relief? It turns out, even a spicule of physical activity can help you destress. 


Science explains the reasons behind it – it has been found that physical activity does not only improve your muscle and bone health but also your mental health. There are a lot of mechanisms behind this interesting fact. For starters, let’s see these two: 



  • Physical Activity Improves Blood Circulation 


When you are doing your best to complete those reps and lift those kettlebells, or when you run some miles down the street, your heart gets accelerated, so it becomes able to pump more and more blood into your body. This is important because an increase in exertion demands more energy which is only possible when your body cells have an adequate supply of oxygen and nutrients. When such a thing happens, your brain gets more oxygen as well. This abundant supply of oxygen acts as a fuel to your brain cells, helping them to replenish and get activated, decreasing the degenerative effect. 


On a larger scale, if you do some exercise regularly, you will feel more mental clarity, agility, and energy. You will feel those common complaints like mental fog and that mental fatigue you feel from doing all the mental exhaustion in a day. So, if you feel stuck on an activity that demands your creative juices, make sure you take some time out to do your favorite exercise! 


  • It Helps in the Release of Endorphins 

Endorphins, oxytocin, and serotonin are all hormones that regulate our mood and help us to feel good. If you want to prevent depression, mood swings, and anxiety, make your dumbbells your best buddies from now on! 


Some scientific evidence suggests an association with the release of these mood-enhancing hormones and physical activity. The theory explains as our muscles work, neurotransmitters get generated in our brain that increases the flow of feel-good hormones in our blood. This also helps to counter the cortisol hormones that get accumulated in the body and make us feel stressed. As exercise helps to alleviate the level of stress hormones in the bloodstream, we feel lessened muscle tension, body aches, and general tiredness in the body. The result is an amazing sense of relief that comes from exercising. 


Top Benefits of Exercise against Stress and Depression

As you have noted, the mechanisms through which exercise helps in improving mental health are evidence that every individual having stress and depression should surely do some physical activity. This means experts in the field of psychology do prescribe their clients some exercises to do as well. Let’s see some of the top benefits of exercise that are the speaking evidence that they help to decrease stress and depression.



  • Exercise Helps to Relieve Mental Fatigue


There are so many jobs and tasks that demand excruciating mental labor from individuals. In such a situation, it might not be possible to relieve the mental fatigue when time and again, you are expected to give your best. The brain surely drains out at that level, and you might experience burnout. Exercise can help you recharge as you have this surge of oxygen and nutrients in your body, just like we have talked about previously. It would help you to refresh yourself, and you get ready to feel your best to perform demanding tasks in a productive way. 



  • It Helps you Sleep Better at Night


One of the main problems that increase the stress and depression levels of a person is the lack of proper sleep at night. On the other hand, insomnia or hypersomnia is also a symptom of certain mental health issues. Exercise and stress act contrary to each other in this aspect as well. When you work out during the day, your muscles get tired enough by the end of the day that once you intend on hitting the hay, you find no trouble sleeping. 


The energy you burn during exercise gets released, and your body is now wanting to be recharged as you give yourself a good night's sleep. You would sleep on time and wake up early, which would pretty much solve your problems of hypersomnia and insomnia that are associated with signs of depression and anxiety. 



  • You Feel More Present in the Moment


Another way on how physical activity helps you stay safe from depression and anxiety is by helping you feel present at the moment. Exercise demands one to be in proper form while performing a certain step. When you are making sure you are doing all the reps and sets right, and you are engaging all your muscles consciously, you are trying to concentrate on one thing – exercise. 


This helps you to stay away from all the overthinking stuff that leads you to feel depressed and anxious. This is how exercise and depression can be linked – you are stopping the vicious cycle of negative thoughts and are focusing on living in the moment. 



  • You Engage in Self-Care


Self-care essentially means self-love. While there are mental health conditions that root out from negative self-talk and negative behavior, exercise helps you to make good relations with your body. When you take out the time to go out there and make the moves, you are giving your body enough respect to be there in the moment and feel its best, no matter what your mental health says. 


You are consciously engaging yourself in something positive, and that takes a lot of courage and motivation. The more you exercise frequently, the more courage you develop to fight against the inner negative voices in your head, and you come out strong each time. You would, therefore, feel a much better version of yourself in this sense. 



  • Exercise helps you to Look Forward to Things


That is just not all! The science behind how exercise makes you feel good about yourself might sound too nerdy for some, but there are a lot of psychological effects of it as well that are easy to comprehend. For instance, there is a common complaint from patients of depression that they feel hopeless about the future, and that is understandable. It may seem useless to look forward to things and thrive for the better to come. While you may run out of things to look forward to, there are some things as simple as an exercise that would help you see more positive things about the future. 


Simply get up from the bed, and if you can, just think about the new move you learned about the exercise you want to try and try to finish it. The sense of accomplishment you would feel would essentially help you to look forward to better things. Also, you can make new goals for your health – such as getting your body more toned up or building more stamina. 


Tips on Mental Health-Friendly Exercise


Don't build up the external motivation to do exercise. If you have a goal to impress someone with your weight or to show someone else how strong or flexible you are just to be accepted by someone, chances are you are not going to get any better mentally by the end of the day. Instead, build up some internal motivation and have the aim to do it for yourself only. This would help you to maintain your motivation to do it, and as you get better, you would not feel any obligation to impress someone else. 


Do it at your own pace. It can be difficult to continue a proper workout regime for the sake of it – so, if you are better able to do it, then do it according to how you want. Depression, stress, and anxiety can make it difficult to follow an ordered set of tasks, and thinking about following a strict cardio workout, for instance, can make you feel overwhelmed. Instead, it is better to just dance it out if you feel like it or decide to go for a swim with a friend. Choose comfort over pushing yourself out of your limits in times when doing productive tasks like taking care of yourself might feel too hectic. 


Final Words

Exercises surely have a positive effect not only on the body but also on the mental health as well – just make sure you listen enough to your body and mind to make the right decision at the right time and do what works the best for you. By doing even a little bit of some physical activity for the sake of it would help you feel better.