Lifeline Connections

Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health

Everybody knows that exercising regularly has tremendous benefits for the physical health of our bodies, but it might not be as obvious how big of a role exercise plays in maintaining our mental health. There have been many studies clearly demonstrating that people who exercise or engage in regular physical activity typically have a better quality of life and are generally happier overall.

Some of the elevation in mood can be attributed to the release of endorphins that occurs during any sort of physical exertion. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that function much like morphine does, hindering pain and also promoting feelings of pleasure and enjoyment. By simply incorporating a regular exercise routine for at least 30 minutes three times a week, you will be alleviating stress, anxiety, improving your sleep quality and boosting your self-esteem.

For people suffering with depression, the mere thought of working out may seem impossible. You’re tired and unmotivated which makes getting started with an exercise routine even more difficult. At times like these—when our minds are coming up with every excuse in the book as to why we shouldn’t do something we consciously know could be beneficial—a coping technique called “opposite to emotion” can come in very handy. When your mood is really down, more often than not, the best thing to do for yourself is actually the thing you’re least inclined to do — like go get a good workout in. Getting up and getting started is the most difficult part, but once you’re doing it, and after you’re done, you’ll find it impossible not to feel better than you did before. What I would recommend is to figure out how you most prefer to get your exercise in — you might enjoy group classes, dancing, playing sports or running outside, for example. Try new things out and see what works for you. You’re more likely to follow through with exercising if you enjoy it.

To sum it all up, exercising regularly will increase your energy and your mood levels. The sheer act of moving is one of the best possible defenses against depression.

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