Why Exercise Helps Maintain Mental Health

Being healthy is not just about a certain size jeans, a scale victory or avoiding health issues like diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. It’s about maintaining both mental and physical health.

Exercise can help in both areas. The physical benefits are often featured, but Wendi Schutte, clinical manager for Memorial Wellness Center, shares how exercise can benefit your mental health as well:

  • Exercise lifts your mood! Just ten minutes of doing any type of moderate exercise will stimulate positive effects. Exercise releases endorphins into your body, which are the natural chemicals that can instantly boost mood. Exercise also provides long-term mood improvements that help to alleviate symptoms that can lead to depression.
  • Exercise targets anxiety. When we are frightened or threatened, our nervous system kicks into a Fight or Flight response. This can lead to perspiration, dizziness and even a racing heart. Some of these feelings like perspiration and racing heart are also felt during exercise. Individuals who are prone to anxiety may become less fearful of these reactions after exercise because it may help calm their Fight or Flight response.
  • Exercise works out your brain as well as your body. Individuals with symptoms of depression may experience a more positive outlook by exercising, which can often provide a sense of accomplishment. Exercise moderates a person’s responsiveness to stress. It is a biological workout for our brain so that stress does not have as much of an impact on our mood.

“Exercise is the most underutilized mood enhancer available,” added Amber Olson, LCSW, with Memorial Behavioral Health. “It supports our physical and behavioral well-being through improving sleep quality, clearing our minds by grounding us in the present and releasing our natural feel good neurotransmitters.”

Many of us give up exercise at exactly the time it could benefit us the most. When you have a headache, do you skip the aspirin? You want to feel better as soon as possible. So be sure to take your exercise when your mood needs a boost and see how it helps you feel better

For more information about improving your health, visit Memorial Behavioral Health and Memorial Wellness Center.