Since the first words were written relating to exercising there have been millions of further words which highlight the physical benefits of exercise. Whether it is to lose weight, be more supple, increase strength or have more stamina, many of the benefits that you will read about from get yourself fit, will be physical ones.

However, in recent years, and due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the state of our mental health has been given far more attention than it did previously. With people more willing to discuss their mental health, it has become apparent that it needs as much care and attention as our physical health. This leads us to the fact that if we care for our physical health, it can have a positive impact on our mental health

With that in mind (no pun intended) here are several ways in which your mental health can be boosted and can benefit from you exercising and participating in fitness routines and workouts.

Improved Self Confidence

Whatever exercises you are undertaking, they should involve setting yourself fitness goals, even if they are micro-goals or milestones within a single exercise session. By hitting both your short-term and long-term fitness goals you gain a sense of achievement which can boost your self-confidence and your self-worth. Being physically fit and healthy overall also boosts self-esteem.

Stress Reduction

Stress can manifest itself in many ways, such as insomnia, loss of appetite and turning to harmful “crutches” such as smoking, alcohol and drugs. Stress can also trigger flight or fight hormones so you start sweating, your heart rate increases, which can induce panic attacks. Whilst exercise might not remove the causes of your stress, it can help you deal with them mentally.

Exercising has many benefits, but in relation to stress, it releases norepinephrine which is a body chemical that can regulate how your brain reacts to stressful situations. Bear in mind that whilst you are exercising you are triggering many of the responses to stress we mentioned but in a way that is normal and is expected. This helps you to understand and control them when they occur during stressful situations.

Better Sleep

A good night’s sleep is essential to both your physical and mental well-being. If you cannot sleep you are neither mentally nor physically refreshed the next morning and that does you no good at all. By exercising you raise your body’s temperature so that when it comes time to sleep your mind is calm. Obviously, by pushing your body it tires and thus at bedtime you are in more need of rest and recovery and so more likely to fall asleep.

Increased Happiness

It should never be forgotten that happiness is a state of mind and a mind which feels happy is going to be a lot healthier than one that is in a constant state of gloom and doom. Exercising releases endorphins which are the hormones within each of us that effectively switch on our happy feelings and in extreme cases leads to feeling euphoric. Even those suffering from depression will feel their moods improve whenever they exercise, even if it is for just 30 minutes at a time.

Memory Booster

Research has proven that when we exercise we boost our brains and specifically that means a greater ability to learn, and increased memory. Physical activity causes the number of cells in your hippocampus to increase, with the hippocampus being the area of your brain that is responsible for learning and memory.