Exercise has great benefits for your physical health - it can strengthen your muscles, improve your cardiovascular system and reduce your risk of disease like stroke and diabetes. But did you know that exercise can have benefits for your mental health too?
Why Exercise Lifts Your Mood
Exercise causes your brain to release chemicals such as endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals all work together to make you feel good. In addition to the chemical changes in your brain, exercising can lead to a feeling of accomplishment and relaxation of your muscles, also helping you feel good.
Exercise and Depression
Exercise on it's own is not a cure for depression, but research has shown it can be as effective as medication for mild to moderate depression. In fact, the most commonly prescribed antidepressants are SSRI drugs, which work by increasing the amount of serotonin in your system. As mentioned above, exercise also increases that amount of serotonin in your system, so the effect it has on depression shouldn't come as a surprise.
Make Time for Yourself
Many people believe they are "too busy" for exercise. Being "too busy" for something really just means that you're prioritizing something else above it. By placing exercise high on your priority list, you're prioritizing yourself. This is a great way to help boost your mood and your confidence, because you're taking a portion of your day for yourself.
Choose Physical Activity You Enjoy
While any physical activity will help release endorphins and serotonin, choosing something you enjoy can help boost your mood even further. In addition, by participating in physical activity that's fun for you, you're more likely to be consistent with it. Consistent exercise is key for maximizing the benefits.