Some merits to be gained from exercise – like a more muscular physique and increased stamina – can practically go without saying. Other benefits of physical activity, though, can rather fly under the radar – like how workouts are capable of improving your mental health.
There are, in fact, quite a few ways in which workouts can do that. Some are some of the most noteworthy ways that they could benefit your brain.
Busting depression and anxiety
If you’re feeling depressed or anxious, hitting the gym could prove surprisingly good at alleviating the symptoms. That’s because physical activity releases endorphins, your body’s “feel-good” chemicals that result from the brain and spinal cord and can make you feel happy and euphoric.
This effect of exercise is so well-attested that some doctors advise people suffering from depression or anxiety to try exercise before medication, says Walden University.
If you often suffer from “a bad day at the office”, exercising regularly could at least lead you to feel much more resilient against it.
One big reason why is that, as your heart rate increases, your body could produce such neurohormones as norepinephrine – which, according to HuffPost, can moderate your mental response to stress. So, a good day at the gym can mean – ahem – a good day at the office, too.
It’s no wonder that, as you see your physique starting to shape up and you no longer find yourself quite as exhausted as you once often did, your self-confidence could go through the roof.
Furthermore, exercise enables you to quickly tap into the benefits of enhanced self-esteem – and, consequently, self-confidence – regardless of your gender or age. One day, it could simply be weight loss that enhances your mood; on another day, the first sign of a six-pack could do it for you.
Helping you to enjoy the outdoors more
Taking your workouts outdoors could enable you to improve your self-esteem yet further. Just make sure you choose an outdoor activity you genuinely like – it could be jogging, hiking, rock-climbing, or, indeed, something else entirely.
Leading you to sleep more soundly
As exercising can increase your body temperature, it can also soothe you – and, in this way, help you to fall asleep more easily. Nonetheless, sleep experts wouldn’t advise that you swap your usual bedtime reading for some late-night workouts…
Instead, you should schedule your workouts for about five to six hours ahead of bedtime – as, by then, your body temperature will have dropped, telling your body to slip into slumber.
Boosting your brainpower
According to studies conducted on both mice and humans, cardiovascular exercise can kick-start neurogenesis. No, that’s not a new rock band fronted by Phil Collins, but instead a process where new brain cells are created, thereby improving overall brain performance.
“Follow you, follow me”? Well, you’ve certainly now got a good reason to follow the path that leads to your local gym.