5 Mental and Emotional Benefits of Exercise

You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how good? From boosting your mood to improving your sleep, find out how exercise can improve your life.

1. Stress relief

Exercise can have beneficial effects on stress and anxiety levels, leaving you feel more calm and relaxed. This may be due to reduced adrenaline and cortisol and increased serotonin and norepinephrine, which moderate the brain’s response to stress.

Or it could simply be that a good bout of physical activity can help you forget the stresses of your day – acting as a form of meditation. Either way, there may be a key to finding the optimal mix of activity, intensity, frequency and duration of exercise for stress relief.

2. Improved mood

Physical activity has been shown to improve mood and feelings of happiness. Exercise triggers endorphins, the brain’s ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters. Endorphins boost your mood and help you relax. Ever heard of the “runner’s high”? The expression refers to the feeling you get when the brain releases endorphins stimulated by exercise.

3. Focus and clear thinking

If you find yourself losing focus or getting forgetful, here’s another reason to exercise regularly. Physical activity delivers oxygen to the brain and related tissues. 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, five days a week is recommended to release brain chemicals that support memory, focus and mental concentration.

4. Promotes self-esteem

Physical activity has positive effects on self-esteem and confidence. These can be related to self-perceptions of attractiveness, physical condition and strength. To maximise self-esteem benefits, set goals for your exercise plan and celebrate reaching them when you get there.

5. Better sleep

Several research studies suggest links between regular exercise and improved sleep. Survey participants consistently cite physical activity as an important factor in being able to fall asleep and enhancing the quality of their sleep.

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