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How Exercise Affects Mental Health

We all have those hard days where we want to spend all of our time in bed or on the couch but did you know that getting yourself up and moving can actually improve your mood? Exercise has been proven to have a huge impact on mental health. People who are more active often have a lower level of depression and anxiety. There has not been much research into why this is but it is theorized to be because you release serotonin and dopamine when you exercise. A lot of people think that exercising will only improve your physical health but the mental health benefits exceed physical changes. This makes exercising even more important to incorporate into your routine.

    Exercise has been described as a natural antidepressant. Struggling with your mental health is hard enough and taking prescribed medication sometimes doesn’t work for you. Fortunately, exercise can be a great replacement for antidepressants. Exercising causes positive changes in the brain and will release endorphins from your body. This means a happier you! 

    On top of helping depression, exercise can also help people with anxiety. When you work out, you often experience similar symptoms of anxiety like a racing heartbeat, sweating and fatigue. By mocking these symptoms with exercise, you can train your body to adapt to them, eventually overcoming your anxiety. Also, exercise can be a great way to distract yourself from intrusive and negative thoughts resulting from anxiety. You are much more likely to overthink when you are sitting at home all alone rather than in the gym lifting weights! Exercising can be life changing for people with anxiety.

    Another huge benefit of exercising is having higher energy levels and better brain function. Do you ever notice that after sitting on the couch all weekend, it is even harder to get up for work on Monday? There is a reason for this. When you are more active, more blood flows to your brain. This means more oxygen which leads to more energy! On top of this, the abundant blood supply to your brain can increase your cognitive functioning which includes memory, perception and attention span. If you have a big test or event coming up, exercising beforehand would be a great idea. Not only will you have more energy, but you will be able to multitask and memorize more!

      If you have a difficult time with your mental health, exercise may be the solution you’ve been looking for. Next time you are feeling down, try to get up and go on a run or do an at-home workout. Ask yourself, “is there a change in my mood?”, “Do I feel refreshed and energized?” If your answer is yes, it is likely that exercise will help your mental health overtime! Exercise is an incredible form of self care and will make you feel better than ever before. 

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