Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health
Physically, exercise keeps the body's weight in check, increases its strength, and boosts its immunity.
Mentally, exercise can release stress, improve concentration power, and protect against diseases such as Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
Additionally, discipline and other positive long-term habits resulting from a commitment to regular exercise can continually reward one's self-confidence and mental well-being.
Scientifically, exercise releases endorphins in the brain.
Endorphins are hormones which occur naturally in the human body.
They are similar to morphine as they have pain-relieving properties which help in stabilizing the body from the shock felt during exercise.
However, the mechanism and effect of endorphins in the body is more complicated than previously speculated and it is now hypothesized that they may lead to the happy feeling experienced after a good workout.
Furthermore, three better-known hormones, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, also increase in the body with exercise.
These hormones alleviate moods and are also present in antidepressants such as Prozac.
Exercise is therefore widely prescribed to help with depression.
Exercise encourages the heart to pump blood more effectively and stimulates blood circulation.
Mental decline and diseases such as dementia are thought to stem from too little blood flow to the brain.
Conversely, increased blood flow to the brain enhances its activity and may be reflected in better memory and concentration.
With age, these benefits are more pronounced as susceptibility to mental decline is greater.
Learning ability is enhanced through exercise.
This is due to improved cognitive activity as a result of modulating neurotransmitters, the growth of new neurons, and a more positively adaptive brain.
Benefits of exercise start even before birth.
According to experiments, the offspring of more active female rats are born with 40% cells in their hippocampi (a region of the brain).
The psychological impact of exercise promotes mental well-being.
Exercise is widely accepted as a form of stress and anxiety release.
Excess or negative energy can be dispelled in a way that is beneficial to the health and body.
During physical activity, the mind is often more focused on the workings of the body.
It is hence allowed a moment's respite from thinking and fretting about other issues.
After exercise, increased brain activity and better moods due to increased hormone flow, as discussed above, allow for a fresher mind to tackle inevitable problems faced in life.
Moreover, some believe the body's response to stress is improved as exercise forces the different systems of the body, such as the cardiovascular system and nervous system, to communicate more closely and efficiently.
Mental discipline, perseverance, efficiency, and concentration may also improve after a regular regime of exercise.
These traits can be applied to other aspects of life, such as work or education, to yield higher chances at success.
Self-esteem, self-awareness, and self-acceptance will also develop after understanding the workings of one's body through movement, thereby integrating the mind and body.
Overall, the effect of exercise on the mind is one of better moods, more energy, higher confidence, and stronger discipline.