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  • 5 Ways Exercising Can Improve Mental Health

  • Published By:
  • Category: Mental Stress
  • Published Date: March 14, 2024
  • Modified Date: March 14, 2024
  • Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Featured Image Caption: Man Running on Sand Field

Research from 2021 found that 57.8 million adults in the United States live with some form of mental illness—that’s more than one in five U.S adults. Understandably, this situation leaves many people looking for a non-invasive, effective, and safe way to improve their mental health.

If you’re looking for a reason to start exercising, you probably know how it’s good for your body. But did you know that staying in shape is also great for your mental well-being? It’s true! Find out why as you learn about how exercise improves your mental health.

Getting Better Sleep

One reason why stress can be so prevalent in your life is due to an often repeating cycle that looks something like this:

  • You feel stressed out about something or multiple things.
  • Your stress causes you to lose sleep.
  • You become more stressed about not being able to sleep!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night. If you’re not hitting this target, you’re going to feel tired, cranky, and have a hard time focusing the next day. Waking up well-rested contributes to feelings of alertness. It also sparks a sense of joy in many people.

The main reason people sleep well after exercising is from expending energy. This sort of tiredness is what you may feel after spending a long day walking around a mall, theme park, or similar location. At the end of a strenuous day, you tend to have less trouble falling asleep.

Some people feel tired after a workout from their bodies cooling back down from exercise-induced body warmth. For others, lower cortisol levels help ease people into a relaxed state.

There’s no guarantee that working out will help wind you down before bedtime. But it’s definitely worth a shot to help resolve your sleepless nights.

Potential Social Interaction

As many adults discover, it can be a struggle to meet new people besides their co-workers each week. So, you’ll be glad to know that fitness is a hobby great for those wanting to meet new people.

With the worldwide movement of people taking back their health, most fitness centers remain steadily full throughout the year. Chances are, enough time spent in the gym will yield conversations with new people.

You can also invite a friend or family member to be your workout buddy. These workout sessions are great ways to catch up with someone familiar while working to improve your mental health through physical fitness.

Helps You Deal With Stress

As much as we’d love to never deal with stress, it’s just not possible for most people. The next best thing is having healthy ways to combat stress. One of these proven ways is through exercise.

Your body produces something called cortisol when you deal with stress. The effects of cortisol are all the negative side effects of stress, including anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Fortunately, regular exercise lowers your cortisol levels.

If you’ve exercised in the past, you can likely recall feeling more pleasant after your workout than you did before it began. The drop in your cortisol levels could have been why. At the end of your next stressful day, try burning off some of your frustration through working out.

Improved Self-Confidence

It’s human nature to feel satisfied with yourself after working out. Exercising helps you feel better. With enough time and effort spent in the gym, working out will also improve your body composition.

As you continue seeing a fitter version of yourself reflected back in mirrors and gym selfies, you’ll likely experience improved self-confidence. There’s also the compliments you may soon receive from those who notice your hard work and dedication to staying fit.

If you struggle with self-confidence, this newfound boost in morale may help you in all aspects of your life.

More Dopamine

If cortisol is associated with stress, dopamine is its polar opposite. Dopamine is associated with happiness. Your body naturally produces dopamine to help regulate your mood or when it perceives that you reward yourself.

Dopamine production also increases after you exercise.

An example of an exercise-induced dopamine boost is the reason behind the phenomenon called a “runner’s high.” A runner’s high happens after someone feels a wave of positivity after running.

Dopamine production isn’t limited to running out in nature. You can experience an exercise-induced dopamine spike after doing everything from lifting weights to swimming several laps. You gain dopamine from finishing any type of exercise because these activities activate a dopamine boost that comes from completing a task.

If you’re like most people, you can likely use an enhanced sense of mental well-being. Fortunately, exercise a few times per week might provide the mental health improvements you seek. If you need motivation to begin or continue getting fit, we hope this article encourages you to stick with it.

Alex Eagleton

By Alex Eagleton
who is a content writer with eight years of experience publishing content for companies worldwide. From small to large companies, Alex works to deeply understand and resonate with his audiences. From articles to social media to email, he’s done it all in the content marketing world. In his spare time, he also writes for his health-based website: New Generation Fitness.

Member since March, 2024
View all the articles of Alex Eagleton.

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