08 April 14  |  Fitness   |  

Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Written by Barbara Whatley, Spa & Fitness Director.

Beyond improving cardiovascular health and muscular strength, hitting the gym is good for your mind and overall “quality of life.” Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negativity, as well as improving self-esteem and cognitive functions. In honor of World Health Day yesterday and Stress Awareness Month (April), here are 8 ways exercise can help improve both your body AND mind.


Sweat Away Stress

Rough day at the office? Trying to manage a hectic schedule? Sweat it out by taking a walk or hitting the gym. Exercise increases concentrations of nor-epinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.

Fuel your Mood

If you are feeling irritable or down, boost your mood by working out.  If you suffer from anxiety or clinical depression, exercise should be part of your daily routine. Physical activity releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Regardless of your age or fitness level, even the Mayo Clinic suggests that working out for 30 minutes per day can help you look and feel better.

Improve Self-Confidence

Put some pep in your step. Working out improves physical appearance, body image and self-confidence. Regardless of weight, size, gender or age, exercising will surge your feeling of self-worth and elevate the perception of your physical appearance.


Alleviate Anxiety

Over 40 million Americans suffer from the “can’t eat, can’t sleep” feelings caused by anxiety, which is the most common psychiatric illness in the U.S. Exercising produces endorphins, which are your brain’s natural pain killers. Although the effects may be temporary, a mere 5 minutes of aerobic exercise or 10 minutes of walking can help combat feelings of anxiety.

Sleep Sounder

Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that can improve your ability to sleep by making you feel more relaxed. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 Sleep in America Poll, people who exercise reported better sleep than those who didn’t exercise.

Improve Memory

Be stronger, faster, and smarter! Regular physical activity increases the production of cells in the hippocampus that are responsible for boosting memory and improving the ability to learn.

Maintain Cognitive Health

Push yourself in the gym and you’ll increase your overall brainpower. Studies suggest that high-intensity exercises increase levels of a brain-derived protein, known as BDNF, believed to improve decision making, higher thinking and learning.

Avoid Depression

People who participate in regular vigorous exercise are 25 percent less likely to develop depression and/or an anxiety disorder over the next 5 years. Working out places healthy levels of stress on the body, improving how the brain handles overall stress.

Are you ready for an improved you? Do you need help kick starting your gym routine? The Golden Ocala Personal Trainers are always available to help you plan out the perfect routine for your fitness level and lifestyle. Start exercising now for a healthier, happier you!