We all know that staying active can benefit our physical health, but did you know it can improve your mental health at the same time? We called in the experts to find out exactly what happens to our minds when we exercise
1. “Exercise helps you feel more in control of your thoughts, and life, by activating a part of your brain called the ventral prefrontal cortex, which helps you think more clearly and make better decisions,” says wellness expert Emily Wysock-Wright, founder of Adira (adiralifestyle.com).
2. “Regular exercise that involves weight training has been shown to give people more confidence in day-to-day life,” says Mark Fox, health and fitness tutor and PT at The Training Room (thetrainingroom.com). “Lifting more weight in the gym helps you feel stronger and more powerful, so it makes sense that you feel stronger outside of the gym, too.”
3. “Studies have shown that exercising for just 30 minutes at low-intensity reduces the level of the body’s stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, which aids relaxation,” explains Emily.
4. “Exercise increases serotonin in your body,” says Dr Rekha Tailor, skincare expert and founder of Health & Aesthetics (healthandaesthetics. co.uk). “This helps your brain regulate mood, sleep and appetite. It also increases your levels of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. This is why there is a strong belief that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as medication.”
5. “Lots of changes in the brain happen when you exercise, including neural growth, reduced inflammation and new activity patterns,” explains Dr Rekha. “Together, this promotes feelings of calm and wellbeing.”
6. “A lack of sleep or good-quality rest has been shown to contribute to poor mood, stress and depression,” Mark states. “Regular exercise can result in a higher-quality night’s sleep, which means you’ll feel more refreshed and energised to combat the day’s stresses.”
7. “Powerful chemicals in your brain, called endorphins, are released when you exercise,” Dr Rekha tells us. “These interact with the receptors in our minds to reduce our perception of pain in a similar way to painkillers, making us feel good!”
8. “Some scientists believe that exercise can bring about a sense of improved self-esteem, self-control and the ability to rise to a challenge, too,” says Dr Rekha.
9. “Exercising in nature can boost the feel-good effect,” says Mark. “If you exercise in those sunny summer months, you’ll also get a good dose of vitamin D, which can help to reduce depression and anxiety.”
10. We all know that staying active can benefit our physical health, but did you know it can improve your mental health at the same time? We called in the experts to find out exactly what happens to our minds when we exercise “Researchers have noted that exercise seems to be associated with improved creative thinking, which, in turn, increases our overall happiness by reducing anxiety, boosting our mood and even slowing down our heart rate,” says Emily.
“Small changes in your life, like a 30-minute workout every now and then, will have a positive effect on you and affect how people see and react to you, which will make you feel even better. The only person who can make you feel better is you – there are tools you can use to help you and one of the big ones is exercise.”