Brain Exercises | Twisted Tastes

There are a lot benefits to exercise. We all know, that it is the best way to lose weight, build muscle and be healthy. But what a lot us may not know is that exercising is also great for overall mental health.

As we work towards doing things that exemplifies that we are loving ourselves, it is importation to recognize the state of our mental health. Often discussing mental health issues openly is frowned upon but it is proven that mental health improves the quality of life.

“When we are free of depression, anxiety, excessive stress and worry, addictions, and other psychological problems, we are more able to live our lives to the fullest.

Peace of mind is a natural condition, and is available to everyone.”

Mental health strengthens and supports our ability to:

have healthy relationships

make good life choices

maintain physical health and well-being

handle the natural ups and downs of life

discover and grow toward our potential

With these thoughts in mind, exercising is a good way to help with improving your overall mental health.

The following are some of the ways exercising can help you maintain a healthy mental state:

  • Reduce stress. One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Working up a sweat can help manage physical and mental stress. Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.
  • Boost happy chemicals. Exercise releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed. For this reason, docs recommend that people suffering from depression or anxiety (or those who are just feeling blue) pencil in plenty of gym time. In some cases, exercise can be just as effective as antidepressant pills in treating depression.
  • Improve self-confidence. Hop on the treadmill to look (and more importantly, feel) like a million bucks. On a very basic level, physical fitness can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Regardless of weight, size, gender, or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person's perception of his or her attractiveness, that is, self-worth. How’s that for feeling the (self-love?
  • Enjoy the great outdoors. For an extra boost of self-love, take that workout outside. Exercising in the great outdoors can increase self-esteem even more. Find an outdoor workout that fits your style, whether it’s rock-climbing, hiking, renting a canoe, or just taking a jog in the park. Plus, all that Vitamin D acquired from soaking up the sun (while wearing sunscreen, of course!) can lessen the likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms.
  • Prevent cognitive decline. As aging and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s kill off brain cells, the noggin shrinks, losing many important brain functions in the process. While exercise and a healthy diet can’t “cure” Alzheimer’s, they can help shore up the brain against cognitive decline that begins after age 45. Working out, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.
  • Alleviate anxiety. The warm and fuzzy chemicals that are released during and after exercise can help people with anxiety disorders calm down. Hopping on the track or treadmill for some moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise (intervals, anyone?) can reduce anxiety sensitivity.
  • Boost brainpower. Various studies on mice and men have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells (aka neurogenesis) and improve overall brain performance.
  • Help control addiction. The brain releases dopamine, the “reward chemical” in response to any form of pleasure, be that exercise, sex, drugs, alcohol, or food. Unfortunately, some people become addicted to dopamine and dependent on the substances that produce it, like drugs or alcohol (and more rarely, food and sex). Short exercise sessions can also effectively distract drug or alcohol addicts, making them de-prioritize cravings (at least in the short term). ] Alcohol abuse disrupts many body processes, including circadian rhythms. Thus, alcoholics find they can’t fall asleep (or stay asleep) without drinking. Exercise can help reboot the body clock, helping people hit the hay at the right time.
  • Increase relaxation. For some, a moderate workout can be the equivalent of a sleeping pill, even for people with insomnia. Moving around five to six hours before bedtime raises the body’s core temperature. When the body temp drops back to normal a few hours later, it signals the body that it’s time to sleep.
  • Get more done. Research shows that workers who take time for exercise on a regular basis are more productive and have more energy than their more sedentary peers.

So, the next time you are feeling stressed or anxious instead of taking a drink, eating or even having a long bubble bath, hit the gym or take a long walk and enjoy the outdoors. Just another way to love yourself enough to…

SourceShape Magazine

American Psychological Association

Rhode Island Psychological Association

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