How Regular Exercise Benefits More Than Just Your Physical Health

People work out for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s to have more energy, build more muscle, look more attractive, slim down for a vacation or reduce the risk of health problems later on in life, there’s no question that working out  has a lot to do with how our bodies look and function physically.

Not as many of us are quite as aware of how regular exercise actually affects our ability to think, feel and do. The range of psychological and emotional benefits you get from exercise may be just as rich as what it can offer your physical body.

Here are just some of the mental boosts you can benefit from when you incorporate regular physical activity into your schedule.

You’ll be less stressed out.

If you can’t eliminate stress from your life, you can at least learn to cope with it better. According to the American Psychological Association, exercise may have a positive impact on neurochemicals involved in stress responses by giving the body the chance to practice dealing with stress. When you have the cardiovascular system working with the nervous system and the muscular system and all sorts of other systems in the body, it naturally becomes more efficient when faced with stressful situations.

You may not suffer from as much anxiety or depression.

While there are varying levels of severity in anxiety and depression, anyone suffering from either condition shouldn’t discount the power of physical activity. When you exercise, your brain releases feel-good chemicals that may help combat negative thoughts, reduce chemicals in the immune systems that can worsen depression and create a calming effect by increasing your body temperature.

You’ll slow down the aging process of your brain and improve memory.

As we age, our cognitive abilities begin to deteriorate, but health and lifestyle factors can play an important role in how fast that happens. In one study, researchers assessed cognition, resting cerebral blood flow and cardiovascular fitness in a group of adults ages 57-75 before, in the middle of and after their 12-week aerobic workout regimen. They found that the exercises helped the participants’ improve their memory, brain health and physical fitness.

Your thinking and decision-making capabilities may improve.

Anyone who really wants to maximize their brainpower and increase productivity knows how important it is to avoid being sedentary. One study that monitored the activity of mice found that increased levels of cardiovascular exercise can produce more brain cells. Another study found that strenuous exercises leads to increased levels of proteins in the brain, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (or BDNF). All of this is great news for those of us who want to keep our brains healthy and performing optimally.

You’ll get a boost in confidence.

Let’s face it—exercise can be hard. It’s both physically uncomfortable to do and mentally uncomfortable to keep it up regularly when you really just don’t feel like doing it. But with a good, solid habit comes increased strength and goal achievements, which can have a great effect on your confidence levels. And that’s not even counting the added bonus of seeing and feeling the physical changes in your body.

You’ll be more present.

We already covered how regular exercise can help with anxiety, but it’s worth noting here at the end that it can pretty much help with clearing out all the crazy thoughts that are flying through your head. For many people, exercise has a meditative effect on them. It forces you to focus on the moment and what you’re doing—feeling your muscles work and your heart pump. And if you can get outside in a park or on a trail while doing it, that’s even better!

There’s a lot to be said about how our bodies were made to move, and it’s important to remember this as we’re all sitting at our office desks, driving in our cars, lounging on our couches and staring at our smartphones. One could argue that it really lays the foundation for how we live our lives.

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Photo Credit: Stefano Montagner

68 comments

Patricia L.
Patricia Labout a year ago

Ok

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joanne p.
joanne pabout a year ago

ty

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Hildegarde R.
Hildegarde Rabout a year ago

Agree. Nice post.

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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DJ M.
DJ Mabout a year ago

thank you

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Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohn1 years ago

Thank you

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Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohn1 years ago

Many thanks to you!

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Danuta Watola
Danuta W1 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

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