Health and Fitness

The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

silhouette of boy running in body of water during sunset
Photo by Samuel Silitonga on Pexels.com

Perhaps the thought of exercise sends you into a state of anxiety, but how about that feeling you get once you’ve mustered up the energy to slip on some sneakers and head out the door? My guess is that you feel pretty damn happy with yourself. Maybe you even feel a little more energised than before! Well, that’s because exercise has some pretty remarkable benefits for our mental health.

Now, I’m all for a day of doing absolutely nothing every once in a while, but if I spend too much time lazing about streaming the entire six seasons of Gossip Girl on Netflix, not only do I get a severe case of ‘bot rot’ but my mental state can suffer as well.

Exercise has the ability to stimulate your ‘happy chemicals’, also known as endorphins. You’ve probably heard of them before and that’s because these little hormones are what give us those euphoric highs that we experience when we’re jumping out of aeroplanes, crossing the 100m finish line and, dare I say it, having sex. In fact, there is strong evidence to suggest that physical activity is an effective form of treatment for depression and anxiety. Considering that most medication can tend to make sufferers feel even worse, the prospect of exercise acting as a form of therapy is an exciting one.

For me personally, exercise is a huge stress reliever. Whenever I am feeling upset, frustrated or uptight, there is honestly no better feeling than pounding some pavement for 20 minutes. As well as stimulating the release of endorphins, physical activity can trigger a release of serotonin, which is another feel-good chemical. So, when I get home from my run and I’m red-faced and covered in sweat, I don’t feel anxious anymore. Instead, I feel like I have accomplished something. I feel positive. I feel motivated.

So, the next time you’re feeling a little dejected or stressed out, don’t flop into bed and let it eat away at you, make it go away! After all, healthy body, healthy mind.