The Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health

Many of us will already be aware that exercise is good for our bodies. Regular exercise contributes to cardiovascular health, weight management, immune function…the list goes on. But when was the last time you considered the effect that your workout regime may be having on your mental health?

Read on for our in-house nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr’s top mental health and exercise benefits.

Stress reduction 
One of the magic ways that exercise helps us manage stress levels, is by reducing our body’s stress hormones — cortisol and adrenaline. Exercise also stimulates the production of brain chemicals that act as mood lifters. Think endorphins!

Improves self-confidence 
Exercise can give us a confidence boost. Whether trying to lose weight, gain muscle or improve endurance or performance — it can be a great boost to our self-esteem and with that comes daily confidence.

Brain power 
Our brains thrive on exercise. Cardiovascular exercise can promote neurogenesis — a process that helps to boost brain performance. And as if that wasn’t a good enough reason to hit the tarmac regular exercise has also been shown to support memory and focus. 

Boosts your mood
Exercise is scientifically proven to boost our moods and lessen symptoms of both depression and anxiety.

A 2017 review on the effects of exercise published in the journal Brain Plasticity[1], found that after just one bout of exercise, participants reported improved mood and found a reduction in tension, depression, and anger. Result!

Ways to exercise for your mental health: 

It is easy, free and flexible and one of the exercise options that is a thumbs up during the Covid pandemic. Pop on your trainers and rain coat and get out into natural light and nature for a walk. Not only will the movement be beneficial, but exposure to natural light can help boost energy and mood, whilst studies have shown that just 20 minutes of nature exposure a day can reduce our stress hormones. Go and walk around something green today!

This might sound like an obvious one to some, but yoga can be both soothing and a sweaty stress relief. The incorporation of breath work in yoga works to take our bodies from a fight or flight mode, into the rest and digest mode (where we eat and relax). If you don’t have time for a full on vinyasa take a few deep breaths and some downward dogs to feel the yogi benefits.

One of the great things about dancing is it is easy and no equipment is needed. Select your favourite playlist, find a space in your home and MOVE. Have young ones at home, get them involved or ask them to teach you a dance routine. You might just end up with some ab goals from the giggles.