6 Mental Health Benefits of Physical Exercise

Connection between physical exercise and mental health. (Image via Pexels/ Tima Miroshnichenko)
There's a connection between physical exercise and mental health. (Image via Pexels/Tima Miroshnichenko)

Physical exercise is directly linked to mental health and overall well-being. It's important to care of mental health, just like you would any other physical condition. One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to be physically active. Engaging in regular physical activity can boost energy level, relieve tension and stress, and promote an overall sense of well-being.

Surveys recommend doing at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. That may seem like a big number, but remember that any movement counts, even for just a few minutes.

Physical activity can be anything from walking and hiking, to yoga, to gardening, or playing a sport — whatever helps you feel good. The body and mind are closely connected, so when your body feels better, it's likely that your mind will too.


Mental Health Benefits of Physical Exercise

Physical exercise has a lot to offer for mental health. Six common benefits you can reap by incorporating exercise in your daily life are:

1) Reduced Stress and Anxiety

One of the most crucial ways exercise enhances mental health is by reducing stress. A certain amount of stress is normal at every stage of life, but if you don't have effective coping mechanisms, the stress can add up till it negatively impacts both your mental and physical health.

The levels of neurotransmitters in the brain that control your mood can be regulated with exercise. It can enhance endorphins, which are the molecules that lift mood while decreasing your level of cortisol, one of the main stress hormones.

After working out, you might find that you're immediately calmer due to the profound impact of exercise on the brain. Exercising as a regular part of your schedule can also have a lasting impact on your mood.

2) Improved Cognition

Exercise is associated with greater cognitive health. Numerous studies have demonstrated that exercise enhances working memory, episodic memory, executive functioning, and attention span. Physical exercise can aid in the best possible maintenance of your cognitive health.

Your emotional well-being may be impacted by how well your cognitive abilities are performing. Keeping your mind in great form is essential for maintaining or improving your emotional health, as cognitive difficulties can make you feel lost or alone.

3) Confidence Boost

There are several physical benefits that result from regular exercise, including increased muscular tone, weight loss, and endurance.

All of them together can result in a huge rise in self-esteem and the confidence that goes along with it. You probably didn't set out to get better-fitting clothing, thinner frame, and the ability to climb a hill without getting out of breath.

It frequently occurs before you even notice it. It's only one of the numerous benefits of exercise for the body, mind, and spirit.

4) Release of Feel-good Hormones

Cortisol levels drop as a result of exercise. Additionally, it raises endorphins, the body's feel-good compounds that naturally elevate mood.

Your mind might be diverted from various issues by engaging in physical exercise. While that's not a solution to your problems, it can take you to a Zen-like state where you feel good about yourself.

5) Improved Sleep

Physical exercise can also aid in helping you sleep better if you have problems doing so. Exercise raises body temperature, which can have relaxing effects on the mind and make people less likely to count sheep and more likely to sleep.

The circadian rhythm, the body's internal alarm clock that determines when you feel alert and weary, is regulated by exercise as well. Even if one psychological benefit of exercise is better sleep, sleep specialists advise against exercising right before bed.

6) Inspire Others

Exercise rarely takes place in isolation, whether it's playing football, taking a class at the gym, or simply going for a run with a friend, which is great news.

Studies have shown that when teamed with an exercise partner, most people do better in aerobic assessments. Being a part of a team is very effective; in fact, it can increase an athlete's pain threshold. During a sweat session, even fitness beginners may motivate one another to go out harder. So choose a workout partner, and get moving.


Traditional treatment approaches such as medication and psychotherapy are widespread, but regular exercise has been found to be a beneficial supplemental treatment approach.

Physical exercise encourages the release of brain chemicals that can help you feel less stressed, more confident, happier, sleep better, and have better cognitive and memory function.

More specifically, regular physical exercise has been shown to have a good effect on a wide range of mental health conditions, such as depression, ADHD, general anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, OCD, and PTSD.

Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.

What do you think of this story? Tell us in the comments section below.

Edited by Bhargav
Be the first one to comment