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Brain Fitness: The Mental Benefits Of Exercise

Sadaf Tafseer

2 min read

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Not only do regular exercise and sports boost body function, they also work wonders in improving mental health. Daily exercise in any form for even short amounts of time has been shown to positively affect mental health in a number of ways. Here are some of the mental benefits of exercise:

1- Improved Self-Esteem:

Along with healthy weight loss, habitual exercise-especially outdoors-increases strength, skill and stamina; inducing positive feelings of self-confidence. Achieving milestones, big and small, fosters a sense of accomplishment and boosts self-confidence, which often translates to improved work and home-life performance. Since exercise also generally tends to life someone’s mood, it decreases the chances that they will look at themselves in a negative light.

2- Sleep Regulation:

Daytime exercise provides an energy boost throughout the day and helps in sleeping faster and deeper; resulting in an improved mental outlook and enhanced productivity. However, exercising a few hours before bed might delay and disrupt sleep due to the extra energy. According to some studies, even people who get just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise experience an improvement in sleep quality the same day. So you will be able to see the results of this very quickly and test it out for yourself.

3- Instant Mood Boost:

Intense exercise acts as an anti-depressant by increasing the production of chemicals such as Endorphin and Serotonin to ‘lift’ moods, along with natural cannabis-like neurotransmitters, or Endogenous Cannabinoids. This can happen just five minutes into some intense exercise so the effect acts very quickly. In one study it was found that it can be around as effective as anti-depressents when it comes to people who have major-depressive disorder.

4- Better Brain Function:

The increased endorphin production also improves concentration, critical thinking and learning. Exercising 3-5 times a week for at least 30 minutes each helps in the growth of new brain cells and prevents mental decline with age. Research has also shown that people who exercise regularly have better memories than those who do not.

5- Increased Resilience:

Short, regular exercise helps in dealing with mental and emotional challenges, and serves as an effective distraction from ‘Dopamine’ addiction (a substance produced by the brain in response gratifying activities such as food, smoking and drugs).

6- Fatigue Reduction:

While exercise may seem tiring after a long day, it actually has the opposite effect. The initial 10-minute workout session you promise yourself can extend to 30 minutes, just as soon as the endorphin and elevated energy levels kick in. If you often feel tired, incorporating some exercise into your lifestyle may help you fight this fatigue. People who exercise regularly often have more energy than those who do not.

7- Anger Management:

Both intense and soothing activities, like boxing and yoga, respectively, provide a safer channel for releasing anger and frustration, hence, preventing the buildup of these destructive emotions.

Apart from the above-mentioned health benefits of exercise, it can also prove beneficial for patients suffering from the following mental conditions:

1- Depression:

Regular exercise provides a welcome distraction from depression-fueling negative thoughts and prevents a relapse by promoting feelings of calm. It can also treat mild to moderate depression, without the use of medication. Take care to choose activities you enjoy in order to avoid further stress. Aerobic and resistance exercises are recommended.

2- Stress and Anxiety:

Taking note of your surroundings instead of being lulled into the steady rhythm of exercising will provide a break from anxiety and the worrisome thoughts that come with it. Furthermore, the exercise-induced endorphins serve as muscle relaxants, providing effective stress relief. The mood improving effect of exercise will also have a large impact on stress and anxiety.

3- Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder:

Dopamine, Nor epinephrine, and Serotonin produced during exercise help to improve focus, motivation, concentration and mood thereby helping manage ADHD. Since people with ADHD are often lacking many of these chemicals which leads to the symptoms.

4- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Trauma:

Exercises requiring the use of both arms and legs, like walking, running and swimming, as well as outdoor activities like hiking and rock-climbing can help patients trapped in these conditions mobilize their ‘stuck’ nervous system and reduce other symptoms of PTSD. Though it is not entirely clear exactly how exercise has these effects, numerous studies have been able to determine that this is one of the mental benefits of exercise

You can check with a medical or health and fitness expert to see what exercise routine would be best for your mental health. Or Book an Appointment with a top Psychiatrist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com. Or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your physical and mental well-being.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Sadaf Tafseer - Author Dr. Sadaf believes that mental illness is not a choice but recovery is. By following this motto, she considers awareness as the key to recovery from mental illness and thus loves to write about it.
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