The Mental Benefits of Getting Exercise Every Day
Most people exercise with only the physical benefits in mind. It’s hard to blame them; who doesn’t want to be a little skinnier or have a better physique? However, there are more benefits to exercising on a daily basis that many people don’t consider, and those benefits aren’t just physical. Just as physical activity is good for the muscles, it’s also great for the brain.
Less Stress and Anxiety
After a long, tough day, it’s easy to come home, plop down on the couch, and boot up Netflix. But while vegging out at the end of the day may be your preferred way to unwind, it may not be the best coping strategy for your mind. Without getting too in-depth into the neuroscience behind staying active, exercising releases chemicals–such as endorphins and norepinephrine–in the brain, leading to lower stress levels and a greater sense of happiness. While you can get these chemical boosts from watching TV, it just doesn’t compare to getting physical.
Help Recovering from Addiction
It’s not recommended that you attempt to treat an addiction alone and solely through exercise, but physical activity on a daily basis can certainly help. To understand how this works, you have to understand a little about the physical effects of addition. When a person indulges in their addiction, those happiness-boosting chemicals in the brain are temporarily released, though the effects are short-lasting. Exercise releases these same chemicals to help limit cravings, whether it’s for a cigarette or other harmful habit.
Better Memory and Brainpower
Exercising on a regular basis doesn’t just release feel-good chemicals in your head. Just like you build muscle strength by exercising regularly, you also help your brain build new neural pathways, increasing its neuroplasticity, which describes how adaptable your brain is to new things. So, if you’re exercising regularly, your brain is better able to take in and adapt to new information. Even if you don’t plan on taking on a new educational pursuit such as learning a new language, this increased power can help you in your everyday life, from remembering your shopping list to preventing neurological disorders.
Again, while many people pick up exercise to get a better-looking body, a great physique isn’t the only way you can boost your self-esteem by staying fit. In fact, how you feel about yourself can be boosted by exercise alone. Studies have shown that people can feel better about themselves after exercising, though it’s still not entirely know why this is. The other mental benefits of exercise–happiness, lowered anxiety and stress–probably contribute to this greater feeling about the self.
A Renewed Sense of Determination
After sticking to a workout schedule, you’re bound to see positive results. Whether you’re hitting small goals or you finally hit that target weight you started exercising for, exercise can be rewarding on a macro level. There’s little doubt that these small successes can be incredibly inspirational, going on to fuel your other goals outside of exercise. As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats.
Exercising can sometimes feel like a chore, especially when you’re struggling, panting, and sweating all over the place. However, just looking at the mental benefits alone should encourage you to add a little exercise into your daily activities. You have little to lose and almost everything to gain.