The physical health benefits of exercise are indisputable. However, do you know that daily physical activity offers several positive effects on mental health as well?
Over the years, numerous studies noted the benefits that regular exercise can bring to the average person’s mental health. Especially for individuals struggling with anxiety and depression, amongst other mental disorders.
I am sure that many of you are feeling stressed now due to upcoming examinations. In this article, we will share with you how exercising can improve your mental health and how you can get started!
Mental Health Benefits from Regular Exercise
Here are some of the perks you can obtain by exercising every day.
1) Breaks the Cycle of Negative Thoughts
Physical activity can help interrupt the flow of constant worries, self-deprecating thoughts, and other negative ideas. So, whenever you are feeling stressed out over your studies, why not make time for a quick 15–20 minutes run?
With exercise, the body releases chemicals such as endorphins—nicknamed the “happy chemical”—that can counteract troubling thoughts and helps you feel happier after a workout. Being in a good mood will always make you more productive.
2) Increases Mindfulness
Students who suffer anxiety and depression often have so many things running through their minds, which may cause feelings of helplessness and despair. Regular exercise can increase mindfulness, which helps them focus on the now.
Take jogging, for example. Instead of these negative thoughts, you can focus on other things, like the wind against your face or the air coming in and out of your lungs.
3) Reduces Symptoms of ADHD
Some of the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) include restlessness, constantly fidgeting, and excessive movement. Regular exercise can help reduce these symptoms by increasing the levels of notable chemicals in the brain, namely dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
These chemicals play influential roles in affecting your mood and your ability to concentrate.
Even if you do not have ADHD, you can still feel restless after long hours of revision. It doesn’t even have to be rigorous exercise. Taking a walk can also help you with restlessness.
4) Helps Cope with PTSD and Trauma
Healing from trauma or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a long and difficult journey. Some of the symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety.
Research has shown that regular exercise may help you cope with these symptoms.
In 2015, an article published in the medical journal Psychiatry Research revealed that physical activity reduced signs of depression among people with PTSD.
5) Improves Quality of Sleep
Regular exercise can help regulate sleep patterns and improve the quality of your sleep. When you are properly rested, it is significantly beneficial for the body, both physically and mentally.
If you do not have time to exercise during the day, relaxing exercises like yoga can help prepare you for bed.
Having enough rest will also help you to concentrate better during your lessons and revisions!
6) Helps Deal with Stress
Whether it is from studying or work, students nowadays are under a lot of stress, and it affects their mental health. Regular exercise can help people de-stress and release the built-up physical and mental tension.
Aside from the release of endorphins that make you feel happier, regular exercise can also help teach the body to adapt to stressful situations and cope more healthily and effectively.
When you are healthier, you will be able to perform at your best.
How to Start Exercising
Aside from having busy schedules and a lack of accessible resources, there are also mental obstacles that can prevent you from doing regular exercise. You may feel unmotivated or overwhelmed at times.
These are valid concerns, but you must not let these emotions stop you from pursuing better health. Here are some tips that you can follow to help you get started:
- Take the first step.
To develop a habit, you need to get started first. While it can feel too much in the beginning, once you get started, it becomes easier to continue. Tell yourself to start with a five-minute walk. Before you realize it, you will most probably be walking for longer than that.
- Start slow.
Do not pressure yourself to accomplish heavy exercises right off the bat. Everybody needs to start somewhere. If you are not sure what to do, consult with a trainer or physical therapist to get your body to optimum health. Most importantly, do not compete with your peers!
- Make it a part of your schedule.
A busy schedule is unavoidable for some, but it does not mean you cannot squeeze in a 15-minute walking or yoga session. Prioritize exercise, for it is an investment in your health. To cement that thought, put it in your schedule and follow through.
- Set up a healthy reward system.
It is easier to accomplish a task when you have something to look forward to afterward. You can reward yourself with a delicious smoothie, a relaxing hot bath, or a trip to your favourite place to help you stay motivated.
Always remember that the mind is as essential as the body, so its health should be among your priorities. If you are struggling with physical pain that prevents you from exercising, check with a physiotherapist who can design you a training regime that fits your needs and goals.
Check out establishments that offer counseling and physiotherapy Singapore residents can rely on! The journey to good health is not easy, but it is achievable with proper help.
Becoming and staying healthy is a lot of work, but it is an investment that pays off in the long run.
If you ever need more help with your studies, you can always engage a private tutor at SmileTutor. All the best!