The benefits of exercise on mental health

Exercise has many benefits when it comes to health, but one that many people aren’t aware of is just how much it benefits your mental health.

There are many ways that exercise can positively influence your mental health:

  • It promotes the release of feel-good chemicals in your brain (endorphins and serotonin).
  • It is a natural and effective way to help with anxiety & stress relief.
  • It helps you sleep better so you rest fully at night and feel more energised during the day.
  • Gives you a sense of accomplishment as your fitness improves and you start achieving your goals.
  • Exercise has a positive effort on productivity.
  • Exercise is most commonly a shared activity – therefore promoting social connections (team training and a new support network!).

When you’re not feeling great, it’s hard to find the energy to get out of bed and seize the day – so you need to find the motivation to do so, and the secret truth of motivation is that it usually comes to you after you take action – not before. By starting small and experiencing some benefits, your motivation will begin to increase.

Here are some easy exercises to help you find that motivation:

  • Find your reason: you’re more likely to stick to something if it’s linked to something you value in life.
  • Start small – don’t go from 0 – 100 straight away or you may find it harder for you to sustain long term. Start by increasing your physical activity slightly, each day or each week.
  • Develop a routine – devise a timetable that you’ll stick to therefore you’re not so much relying on willpower.
  • Do exercise you enjoy – if you don’t do a form of exercise you enjoy, you’re unlikely to maintain it.
  • Set goals for yourself and monitor your progress – it’s rewarding to track your progress towards a specific goal, this will make every session you do feel purposeful.
  • Train with friends – you’re less likely to bail on exercise if you’ve made plans to do it with someone else.

Most importantly, be kind to yourself if you’re just starting out or haven’t exercised in a while. Treat each day as a fresh start and remind yourself that it’s human to drop the ball occasionally.

Source: Beyond Blue