As 2011 approached its close, the American Psychology Association launched an article called “The Exercise Effect.” The article discussed research that, at the time, was cutting edge: they were finding that the benefits of exercise go far beyond physicality, that exercise has numerous psychological benefits, as well! Today, we know that exercise can be great for our psyche, but in a society that can be image-obsessed, this fact is sometimes easy to forget. Here are some of the awesome psychological benefits you can get from working out!
Endorphin release. Endorphins are made up of a series of chemicals in the brain whose primary function is to alleviate pain. Vigorous aerobic exercise stimulates the release of endorphins to your nervous system, and you don’t have to be in any pain in the first place for endorphins to do their job. When endorphins are released into your system, they make you feel really good in a number of ways. They relax the body and enhance your mood. If you have ever experienced or heard of the “runner’s high,” endorphins are responsible for this effect.
Ease Anxiety and Depression. Exercise can be a great combatant to common mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression. Because depression often incapacitates, exercise is a great way to do just the opposite. Getting in some physical exercise and getting your heart pumping can not only boost your mood, but it can help you begin a positive cycle of increased activity, which may be lacking during a period of depression. With anxiety disorders, exercise acts as a way for the body to release stress, so that you can put that stressful energy to good use. And heads up: you don’t have to have a mental illness to experience these benefits! Stress release and mood enhancement are things that we can all benefit from, no matter where we fall on the mental health spectrum.
Better sleep. Our bodies are made to be active, which is why we start to hold onto fat and see other health problems when we lead sedentary lifestyles. When you add in exercise to your routine, you will experience improvement for other basic bodily functions, like sleep! A recent study conducted by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that adults who increased their regular physical activity reported significantly better night’s sleep and reduced insomnia after sixteen weeks. So, keep with your routine to see sleep benefits. They may not come right away, eventually, you are likely to see a big difference.
More energy. Giving your heart a daily boost is one of the best ways to give yourself more energy throughout your day. Cardio health is vital to our daily functioning! Skip your second cup of coffee and do some jumping jacks instead. Consistently get a heart pump in and you will notice a different in your daily functionality and productivity.
Self esteem. If nothing else, working out makes us feel good about ourselves. Not only does our self esteem improve when we begin to see results in our bodies, all these other benefits make us feel great about ourselves, too! Working out can lead to improvement in other areas of our lives as we experience stress relief and improved functionality. If you made time for yourself to work out today, take some times to feel good about it!