Benefits of Exercise: How Exercise Can Improve Your Mood

Have you ever felt elated right after coming out of the gym? Well, your exercise has a lot to do with it. Exercise can help you swing into a happy mood and give you a whole lot of strength to tackle the stress you deal with on a daily basis. While exercising can your body feel calm and relaxed, it also has a plethora of mental benefits. Exercise improves mood as well as help you in balancing your emotions.

If you think exercise is only to improve your stamina or increase muscle size, then you are still not aware of the benefits that exercise has to offer. It improves your physique and physical health, removes the excess fat on your waistline, has a positive impact on your sex life, and gives you longevity. However, these are not the only benefits for which people stay active.

The main reason why people exercise regularly is because of the sense of good health and well-being. Exercising gives you a lot of energy to get swiftly throughout the day, have a continuous and peaceful sleep at night, enhance your memories, feel positive and relaxed about your life. Along with physical benefits, it lets you combat mental health problems very effectively. 

It should be noted that only regular exercise can positively help you in dealing with anxiety, ADHD, depression, and other mental health problems. It sharpens our memory, relieves stress, and improves your mood. To get these benefits from exercise you do not have to be a health expert. Even the simplest form of exercise can help you see the difference in your physical and mental health. Irrespective of your age, fitness level, and knowledge, exercises can be learned and applied in your life as a powerful tool. Read Here: 20 Best Kettlebell Exercises For Women

Most often after an intensive workout, the muscles get sore and tired but overall your mind is relaxed. A sense of both well-being and accomplishment is experienced that boosts the self-confidence you might lack. All the tension pent-up in the muscles is released with the stress in your mind. 

How can exercise improve mood?

You must have heard about endorphins from a lot of athletes or sportspersons. Even someone regular at the gym understands its importance. When you are exercising and engaging your body in a high-intensity workout, a lot of hormones are released in the body along with hundreds of neurotransmitters. The surge in both neurotransmitters and hormones has benefits on both the body and mind. It improves mood, energy levels, and memory. Endorphins, also known as the feel-good chemical of the body is responsible for this. Joggers often experience this and call it the runner’s high. 

How are emotions impacted by exercise?

It is wrong to assume that exercising can treat depression or other mental ailments by itself. But studies have proved that even a 30-minute workout can start impacting the chemicals in your body positively leading to an improved mood. Exercise leads to a stable mood with a significant decrease in anger, tension, stress, and depression as per a study published in a journal called Brain Plasticity.

 If regular exercise is combined with prescribed medication and behavioral therapy for depression, then one can easily observe that the symptoms for depression will reduce significantly. However, over-exercising will not lead you to a happier life. Just like anything else, overdoing exercise will harm you more than giving you benefits. As an example, you may note that effective exercise leads to the stimulation of cortisol production that helps the memory. But if too much cortisol is produced due to over-exercising, then it can negatively impact the body and mood. 

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What kind of exercise can improve mood?

can exercise improve mood

There is a wide range of exercises that people take up as it suits them. So firstly, you do not have to do something that you don’t enjoy or know much about. Running and swimming are among the best cardiovascular exercise but if you are not enjoying it then it is obvious that you will not continue it for a long time. An activity that brings happiness and is enjoyable will give you the required push to go to the gym regularly. 

You can build your own exercise routine after trying everything that you find interesting. You can combine walking with gardening or swimming, high-intensity workout with a group of friends and bike rides, hiking, running, aerobics or Zumba. Mix and match anything that you find suitable for your ultimate goal and capacity. Exercise is also a great way of socializing with people having the same set of interests. This can also boost and improve your mood over a long time. 

Some people may want to stick to the same kind of exercise every day while others may want something different every single day. Depending on your temperament, scale your workout sessions and also consider your mood, weather, or schedule changes.

Aerobic and Cardiovascular exercises

Aerobic and Cardiovascular exercises

For your brain to release the feel-good hormone: endorphin, you need to work out at a very high intensity. Both aerobic and cardiovascular activities like swimming, jogging, brisk walking or cycling can help you with that. Working out can be fun if dancing and gardening are your hobbies. Both these activities can increase the heart rate and have shown positive changes against anxiety and depression. 

If you are a sports fanatic, then joining any local team or group for tennis, soccer or basketball is a great option for both cardiovascular exercise and social interaction. Kickboxing, boxing, or CrossFit is another awesome way to pump up the cardio muscles and when done with a group it is a fun way to do a high-intensity workout.

Yoga

Yoga

Many people relate Yoga with spiritual growth little do they know that yoga is a system for achieving holistic health. Meditation, breathing techniques along with simple and complex physical postures not only build strength but also help your mind relax. Vinyasa yoga or active flow is the only form that provides an aerobic-like workout. The rest lets you focus on your body and inner self. Yoga helps to release tension, stretching tight muscles and strengthening the weak muscles in the body. 

Yoga has a high impact on the mind and mood. The regular practice of yoga can ease anxiety and instill the feeling of well-being. Many experts claim that practicing yoga has made them deal better with depression, anxiety, and other stress-related disorders. Significant changes in the symptoms are noted after practicing yoga for a long time. 

Tai Chi

tai chi exercise

Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese form of exercise that is now practiced worldwide. It is specifically known to help people with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Both of these affect the mood and so Tai Chi can improve the mood as well. Not just this, it is also well-known for improving the immune function and increasing the endorphin levels in the blood. 

Tai Chi is simple and can be done by anyone. Repetitive movements and breathing are the key aspects of Tai Chi. The movements are simple and do not require any strength, endurance or technique. As per Chinese medicine, it is considered as a self-healing practice that helps in alleviating energy blockages that lead to a certain disease in the body. A lot of research has been conducted on the impacts of Tai Chi and it certainly helps in improving many well-being aspects. Mood swings reduced stress, anxiety, depression and improving the self-esteem of the person are among the top benefits of this practice. 

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How to use exercise as an effective tool for improved mental health?

It can be common that you don’t know where and how to start. Wondering how much exercise will boost your mental health? Do not fret, it is not a lot. You don’t have to set aside hours to train yourself from your hectic schedule or run miles and sweat yourself. All the benefits of exercise can be reaped with 30 minutes of intense workout about 5 times in the week. If you are not able to spend this block of time at once you can break it down into 3 ten minute sessions or a couple of 15-minute sessions.

Something is better than nothing

Now since you know the benefits of working out and how it will change your life, it is not an option to choose between working out and lazing around at home. But most of the times taking the first step becomes difficult than what you have imagined. Facing obstacles before and after you start exercising are not myths, they are real things. Especially once you are struggling with any kind of mental issues. Here are a few common obstacles and ways to fight them.

  • Exhaustion: Feeling tired throughout the day, can make you keep exercise at the bottom of your to-do list or maybe even out of it. Just remember that exercise works as an energizer. Studies have shown that exercising regularly can pump up the energy levels and reduce fatigue. 
  • Overwhelmed: At the moments when you feel depressed, anxious, or stressed adding an obligation will sound overwhelming. You will feel that this task is impossible. If you have kids around then it is all the more difficult to take time out for yourself. Keep reminding yourself that exercise will boost your physical and mental well-being which in turn will help you manage other things efficiently. 
  • Hopelessness: Once you start exercising, you might notice your body going against you and not letting you do what you hoped for. Just remember that every experienced person was once an amateur and started from where you are today. So take it slow and see the difference every single day. 

Pain: Overweight, arthritis, injuries, illness can all come in your way while exercising. It is advisable to consult your healthcare provider before starting your regime. The pain will initially be a part and parcel of the plan but too much should never be ignored. Do only what is possible when you are ready. Divide the rime between each exercise and take breaks when necessary. 

Feeling bad: You might start feeling worthless or bad about yourself. Regardless of your age, fitness level or weight, you will be able to achieve what you hope for. There are plenty of people that fit in the same category as you and are trying to achieve what you are aiming for. It is better to surround yourself with such people and engage with them. 

If you are still unable to start, you can start with as minimum as 5 minutes of exercise every day. After all, something is better than nothing. If you have mustered the courage to start exercising and feel exhausted after 5 minutes you can take a break when you are unable to pull yourself. Keep on adding a minute to your session every day until you can comfortably do a 30-minute session. You will notice that as your exercise session starts increasing, your stamina and energy will also start increasing. Eventually, you will want to spend more time exercising without feeling tired and exhausted. The only key to this is committing to some form of exercise on most days of the week. Once it becomes a habit, you will see how your hard work has paid off. 

If you don’t have any time during the week to spend at the gym, then spending a couple of sessions over the weekend can also give you remarkable benefits. Therefore a busy and hectic schedule should never be the reason for inactivity anytime during the entire week. As soon as you have some free time at hand you can indulge in some kind of activity. You will never regret this little adjustment ever in life. 

Excess isn’t required

As per health experts and researchers, moderately intense workout is most suitable for people. Now what does moderate mean:

  • When your breathing is heavier than usual but you are not running short of breath. If you are brisk walking then you should comfortably be able to chat, but singing shouldn’t be convenient. 
  • Your body temperature should be warmer but you shouldn’t feel sweaty or overheated.