5 Ways exercise actually benefits your mental health

Everyone knows they should exercise, but why exactly? Not everyone wants to enter bikini contests. Can’t we just make do with walking around a bit day every day? In this article, we show you 5 ways exercise actually benefits you to change your mind.

Why should you be exercising regularly?

You know you should do regular exercise just as you know you should eat your fruit and vegetables. But why should you exercise? I mean you walk about during the day, isn’t that enough? Why exactly should you push yourself to raise your heart rate, sweat and move your body on a regular basis?

1. Metabolism : Exercise can improve your metabolism and even help prevent it from slowing down too much as you age. Your metabolism is responsible for converting food into energy and is frequently blamed for an inability to lose weight. The reality is that in order to lose weight you need to use more calories than you consume, but an efficient metabolism that processes food well will help the body run more efficiently in general.

2. Deal with stress : Regular exercise helps the body and brain learn to deal with stress more effectively by forcing their systems to work together (cardiovascular, renal, nervous etc). It forces the body into performing at a higher level than simply sitting about and this allows our systems to run through their responses to stress almost as if for practise. Regularly going through routine stress from exercise then leads to a more effective way of dealing with stress in other parts of life.

3. Weight loss : Everyone knows that exercise helps us lose weight and keep it off. Losing weight leads to a greater feeling of self-confidence as well as helping to prevent conditions such as heart disease, stroke or high blood pressure. A considerable amount of money and time is put into trying to lose weight or keep it off, mostly for aesthetic value but it is also important for your general health that you not be carrying too much extra weight. Regular exercise (and a healthy diet) can help maintain a healthy weight so that you don’t suddenly need to lose a large amount in a short space of time.

4. Emotions : It is great for your emotional health; the exercise of any intensity can lead to the release of endorphins as well as actually cause positive changes in the parts of the brain which control depression and anxiety. Getting up and moving your body can reduce negative emotions, depression, and anxiety which can make day to day living that little bit easier.

5. Better sleep : Exercise can help even chronic insomniacs get a better nights sleep. A lack of sleep can have long term health impacts (internal link) but simply adding in regular daily exercise can help your body to fall asleep quicker, and have a more restful undisturbed sleep. 

This doesn’t mean you need to get up and start training for a marathon or taking spin classes four times a week! Studies do not seem to indicate that extremely intense exercises are considerably better than gentler ones; if you are older or recovering from injury for example then sprints, running or intense workouts are not a good idea.  

So take up that sport you used to love in school, take that class you always wanted too, try something new or just even start hiking on your day off. Just do something! And see how much better you start to feel. 

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