Mental health benefits of exercise
When we think of the benefits of physical activity, of course, we think of its positive effects on the weight, heart, lungs and muscles. What is perhaps less known is how good physical activity is for mood and mental health.
Exercise increases the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain
Several studies have shown that physical activity stimulates the brain to produce more neurotransmitters, including serotonin which has antidepressant effects and endorphins which are responsible for the feeling of well-being one feels after exercise.
These higher levels of neurotransmitters help fight depression, anxiety and stress.
Exercise increases the energy level
Regular physical activity helps improve the functioning of the heart and lungs. In addition, it helps to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. When we are less heavy and our lungs and heart can work more efficiently, we have more energy to carry out our daily tasks, which contributes to a feeling of well-being which has a positive impact on mood.
Exercise improves sleep
Regular physical activity improves sleep in several ways:
- It helps regulate the wake / sleep cycle
- It decreases anxiety and stress, which has a beneficial effect on sleep
- It releases serotonin which has positive effects on sleep
- In overweight people, weight loss helps decrease sleep apnea
Exercise helps break social isolation
When our mood is flat, we are often caught in a vicious circle: the more isolated we feel, the darker our mood; the darker our mood, the more we avoid social contact.
Exercising can help break this isolation. No need to engage in a group activity, the smile of a passing person during a walk is often enough to break the isolation.
Some tips for integrating physical activity into your life
Pick an activity that fits well into your routine. Walking is an excellent choice because it can be done anywhere and does not require special equipment.
Start slowly and build up gradually, both in duration and intensity. Wanting to do too much, too quickly, is a common cause of discouragement and injury.
Short but regular sessions (eg 30 min every day) are worth as much as less frequent but longer sessions (eg 60 min 3 times per week).
Take advantage of the free session offers to try out a new activity before purchasing an expensive membership.
If you have any health problems, it is important to get the green light from your doctor. You may be advised to avoid certain types of activity that are incompatible with your condition.