5 Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health

Exercising isn’t just good for your physical health, it’s good for your mental health, too. Here are five ways working out helps to keep you feeling healthy, happy and balanced.

“Exercise not only changes your body, it changes your mind, your attitude, and your mood.”

  1. It ups your happiness levels
    That’s thanks to neurotransmitters called endorphins. When you work up a sweat, your body is flooded with these feel-good chemicals that trigger a positive feeling in the body. Adding to their feel-good effect, endorphins also act as natural painkillers.
  2. It’s a natural stress buster
    Endorphins play their role in lifting your mood and helping to reduce your stress levels, but there are also certain types of exercise that have a natural calming effect. Yoga is often recommended for its soothing benefits and studies have shown that it has a positive effect on stress levels as well as enhancing your mood and overall sense of wellbeing.
  3. It helps you to get better sleep
    Getting enough sleep is crucial not only for your overall health, but also for your mental health. If you’re having trouble sleeping, exercise can help. A 2011 study found that people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. And good news for those with a busy schedule is that you don’t have to exercise at a specific time to reap the benefits – a poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that exercise was linked to better sleep no matter what time of day.
  4. It helps relieve depression and anxiety
    Exercising regularly can have a positive impact on depression and anxiety. According to mayoclinic.org, this could be as a result of the release of endorphins and because exercise can act as a welcome distraction from stress and anxiety.
  5. It’s social and uplifting
    Getting active is a great way to get out and meet people, whether you sign up for a yoga class, join a running club or become a member of a hiking group. And research has shown that there are plenty of mood-boosting benefits to having regular social interaction and a strong support system.

That’s the question the organisers of R U OK? Day are hoping we’ll all be asking on Thursday, 13 September 2018. According to their website, this national day of action is dedicated to reminding everyone that any day is the day to ask, ‘Are you ok?’ and support those struggling with life. To find out more about this initiative, go to ruok.org.au.