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When you work out at the gym or at home, you’re stimulating more than your arm and leg muscles. Your brain also benefits significantly from physical exercise. In fact, creating a regular exercise routine can majorly improve cognitive functions and regulate everyday stress and anxiety. In this blog, we’re focusing on how exercise impacts your mental health.
Stress has both mental and physical symptoms. Most people can quickly identify the fear, nervousness, and loss of focus that comes with mental stress. However, fewer people realize that physical symptoms, such as headaches, sore neck muscles, back pain, cramps, and nausea, can result from physical anxiety. These mental and physical symptoms can often feed off each other. Breaking out of this funk can be difficult, but exercise makes tackling daily stress more manageable.
When you exercise, you force your mind to focus on physical tasks, which clears mental fog and lowers the mental noise of everyday stress. Whether you embark on a daily walk around your neighborhood or challenge yourself to sprints on a treadmill, you’ll recenter your focus on the present moment. Tasks that might have seemed impossible before exercising will appear less intimidating and more manageable.
Exercising also releases endorphins in the brain that help to relieve tension in your muscles. These endorphins can impact your overall mood by giving you a natural feeling of calm and relaxation. Over time, your body will release endorphins more regularly and reduce the severe mental and physical symptoms of stress and anxiety.
One of the most impressive ways exercises impact your mental health is by helping you fight back against depression. Exercise reduces depression through physical, mental, and lifestyle changes. For example, workouts can regulate important chemicals released in the brain, such as endorphins and dopamine. These chemicals naturally relax muscles, promote energy, and boost daily moods and emotions.
Exercise also serves as a healthy routine to perform during depressive episodes. When experiencing depression, the mind can often feel low on energy and prevent you from completing everyday tasks. Symptoms of dissociating and self-isolation cause those with depression to stay inside while fighting intrusive thoughts. Daily walks, yoga stretches, or small bursts of short exercises can effectively combat these symptoms.
Creating a routine to distract from depressive thoughts will be instrumental in fighting back against depression. Working out at the gym will also provide an opportunity to get out of the house and exist among other people. The gym can help you combat self-isolation because no talking or interaction is necessary, but you’re still socializing. Simply working out in a public setting can help prevent dissociation and fight back against these depressive symptoms.
Although starting a new workout routine may be tiring at first, regular exercise can increase natural energy levels significantly. Each time you exercise, your heart rate increases as a result. When you consistently exercise a few times a week, your heart rate will improve to give you more energy each time you work out. Your body will also begin to preserve energy better, which will enhance your performance during exercises.
As your energy levels increase throughout the day, your sleep patterns at night will also level out. Since your energy is more focused and concentrated on periods of exercise each day, your body will feel more relaxed and ready for sleep. Conditions such as insomnia or a lack of REM sleep are also less likely when you practice a regular exercise routine.
Exercise also impacts your memory. When you stimulate your body during exercise, you pump higher oxygen levels to your brain as your heart rate increases. The combination of added oxygen and the release of hormones during exercise promotes new cells and cell connections. These new cells and connections produce higher brain plasticity over time.
When your brain has higher plasticity, it is more adaptable to new neural connections and can receive thoughts and memories more effectively. Plasticity also improves focus and overall cognitive thought processing over time. Tasks at work, school, or home will all become significantly more manageable and less time-consuming. If you often feel trapped inside a mental fog, or if you’re often forgetful, try regular interval workouts to improve memory and focus.
As your body adjusts to an exercise routine, fat loss and increases in muscle tone will likely follow. These physical benefits can be highly motivational and promising to those who feel disconnected or uncomfortable with their bodies. Having higher self-esteem can also increase confidence and help to quiet intrusive or depressive thoughts.
An increase in self-esteem could inspire new goals to try new workouts or routines. For example, those who struggle with focus may benefit from adding gym equipment into their homes to practice a disciplined exercise schedule. User-friendly Precor gym equipment, such as ellipticals or treadmills, could make daily exercise more accessible. These simple workouts will increase brain plasticity, improve focus, and lead to even higher self-esteem.
Working out is both a physical and mental challenge. When you dedicate yourself to improving your physical and mental health, your resilience and stamina will improve significantly over time. Mental challenges you meet at work, in class, or in everyday life will be more manageable and less self-consuming. Your fortitude in the face of stress, both mental and physical, will improve. Once your mind can recognize how strong and resilient your physical body can be, life’s most challenging obstacles will be less intimidating.
Dedicating time to exercising your body is also an investment in your mind. Once you realize how connected the brain and body are, it’s no wonder how exercise impacts your mental health. The brain craves stimulation and activity to help regulate natural functions and release hormones to combat everyday pressures. Creating a disciplined routine to keep your body and mind active will help reduce daily stressors and result in long-term benefits to your cognitive function.
Here at American Home Fitness, we offer the best fitness equipment to strengthen your physical and mental health. Our fitness equipment stores provide some of the most advanced equipment for at-home gyms. To learn more about our gym services and equipment, check out our website for more information.