We all know that exercising is great for your physical health, but it’s also vital for your mental health. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that reduce stress, improve the ability to sleep, improve your mood, and more.
Of course exercise does not “cure” mental illness such as depression or anxiety, but studies show that being active is a great addition to treatment. Exercise boosts serotonin, endorphins, and it triggers the growth of new brain cells and connections, similar to how antidepressants work. Exercise also relieves tension and stress, and gives you more energy and focus throughout the day.
People who exercise tend to sleep more soundly at night, and getting a good night’s rest provides emotional stability and reduced stress. However, if you exercise at night, give yourself at least two hours between your workout and bedtime to get your body temperature back to normal before you lie down.
Exercise can also be a helpful distraction to negative thoughts. Instead of dwelling on your worries and stress, take even 30 minutes to do something active and focus your mind toward something else. When deciding how you will exercise, it’s important to pick something that you enjoy doing. If you hate running, don’t force yourself to run. There are so many ways to get your heart rate up and use your muscles, so choose an activity you like. You can try a number of activities to find what you enjoy, like yoga, swimming, walking, lifting, or even tossing a ball around with a friend.
Adding an exercise routine to your day can help with your treatment for mental illness. Think of exercise as something fun that you get to do to feel healthier and happier. By moving around for even 30 minutes a day, your mind and body will thank you.