We all know the obvious benefits of regular exercise: weight loss, muscle growth, and a better body for beach season. But you might be overlooking an even more important result: an improved mindset.
A consistent fitness routine can help you battle stress, fight anxiety, and face each day with a little extra positivity and chutzpah.
So, if you’re looking for another reason to build an exercise habit into your life, here are six ways fitness can support your mental health and overall wellbeing.
EXERCISE TO FEEL HAPPIER
If you’ve ever hit the gym for a high-energy group class or an intense iron-pumping session, chances are you felt better afterward. "The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong," says Dr. Michael Otto, of the American Psychological Association. "Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect."
Although getting yourself to the gym (and slogging through the first mile on the treadmill) can be rough, it’s worth the effort! Working out releases endorphins, our bodies’ “happy chemicals” that lead to feelings of happiness and euphoria.
Even if you can’t make it to the gym every day, getting a happy buzz from exercising for just twenty minutes a day, a few times each week, can instantly boost your mood.
EXERCISE TO FIGHT DEPRESSION
Now you know: a short sweat sesh can boost your mood. But guess what? The benefits of regular workouts extend beyond a short-term buzz. Research shows that exercise can also help alleviate long-term depression.
A consistent exercise routine has been shown to stabilize moods, improve energy levels, and increase confidence and feelings of wellbeing. And the best part? You can reach these same benefits whether you’re lifting weights, doing CrossFit, or just taking a walk in a local park.
EXERCISE TO OVERCOME ANXIETY
If you’re prone to anxiety, regular exercise can help you manage stress, deal with anxious feelings, and control feelings of panic.
The endorphins that your body releases during and after exercise can calm your mind, body, and emotions calm and help you reach a healthy mental state.
So, if you’re dealing with daily anxiety, hopping on the treadmill or coming in for a high-intensity interval class might assist you in bringing more peace into your life.
EXERCISE TO REDUCE STRESS
Crazy morning with the kids? Stressful day at the office? A gym session might be just the thing you need. One of the most critical benefits of exercise is stress relief.
Raising your heart rate, focusing on something other than the stressors in your life, and working up a sweat can help you manage emotional and environmental stress. Exercise also increases the release of norepinephrine, a chemical that can manage the brain’s response to stress.
So, if a rough day makes you feel like downing a bag of potato chips, hit the gym instead. Working out reduces stress, boosts your body’s ability to deal with mental tension, and (obviously) serves your body better than your go-to comfort food. Win-win-win!
EXERCISE TO BOOST SELF-CONFIDENCE
Not only does consistent exercise make your body look better...it also makes you feel better! Even a single workout session can give you a confidence boost, bump your self-esteem, and improve your self-image.
Regardless of your fitness level, age, or weight, exercise can quickly elevate your sense of inner strength and self-worth. And who doesn’t want that?
EXERCISE TO GET MORE DONE
Feeling sluggish on the job? Your more productive self might be just a short workout away.
Research shows that employees who invest time in their personal fitness are more productive, more creative, and more energetic than their sedentary peers.
Even if your busy schedule makes it tough to squeeze in a daily workout, try to carve out three short workout sessions each week. And, on the days you can’t make it into the gym, head out for a walk or a bike ride and get that blood flowing.
As you can see, exercise leads to benefits that extend far beyond the gym (or the beach). Invest in your fitness, and you’ll see ripple effects in your self-confidence, your emotional health, and your productivity.