Working out has been known to provide countless benefits to our bodies. From increasing cardiovascular health to reducing our chances of heart disease, the physical benefits never seem to end, and are widely talked about in the sports/fitness community. But what benefits are there when it comes to mental health, mental toughness, and mental longevity.
Now, we all know the common mental benefits that come from working out:
– Reduced stress due to high concentrations in norepinephrine being released while we exercise.
– Endorphins being released during exercise has been known to alleviate symptoms of clinical depression and anxiety.
– Cardiovascular exercise promotes neurogenesis(new brain cell production).
– Midday workouts promote a healthy circadian rhythm.
But what else? What else can we learn from exercise that promotes a healthy brain, and depletes the symptoms of different mental illnesses.
Psychology today states,”Exercise directly affects the brain. Regular exercise increases the volume of certain brain regions—in part through better blood supply that improves neuronal health by improving the delivery of oxygen and nutrients; and through an increase in neurotrophic factors and neurohormones that support neuron signaling, growth, and connections.”(Sarah Gingell, Ph.D, 2018)
In essence, devoting just three days, and forty-five minutes each of those days, can promote all of these things. Another, even more interesting fact about exercising is that by just tweaking your workouts and your diet every few weeks, it will promote these affects and increase dopamine levels, or the “reward” chemical.
Another interesting fact stated was,”…exercise appears to be as good as existing pharmacological interventions across a range of conditions, such as mild to moderate depression, dementia, and anxiety, and even reduces cognitive issues in schizophrenia.”(Gingell, Ph.D, 2018)
Overall, as an anxiety ridden, depressed fitness junky, I can wholeheartedly tell you that staying in shape is one of the top reasons while i’m still here today. It was huge for me at the time that I began to delve into the different workout regimes and fitness athletes and programs. I saw a huge change in my attitude, my thinking, and just my overall day. It aligned my schedule, gave me something to look forward to, and made me feel good about myself afterward.
For anyone struggling with mental illness, I think this is something that you should look into. I’m not going to be an advocate for exercise, but I do care about you guys. Take care of your body, your mind, and you spirit. You deserve to be happy. Now, go get it.