75% of employees believe that they experience more on-the-job stress and anxiety than workers a generation ago. (1) And £219 billion is lost each year as a result of workplace stress. (2) Whether you’re a business owner or an experienced professional, you might be surprised to learn how exercise can have a significant impact on mental health. In this article, we’re going to explore the connection between mental clarity, work-related stress, and keeping fit and highlight 6 key benefits of working out on a regular basis.
6 Mental Health Benefits Of Regular Exercise
You need to remember that exercise is not just about losing a few extra pounds and getting beach body-ready, although that will certainly help. Working out often can not only help you look better physically but also feel more at ease in your own skin. So, if you need some encouragement to hit the gym or take up a new hobby, let’s take a look at 6 major benefits of working out around three times a week in regards to physical and mental wellbeing.
1: Get A Serious Endorphin Hit
Let’s first talk science. When you work up a sweat and start physically moving your body, you trigger a chemical reaction in the body. Endorphins, the chemicals released when you exercise, interact with receptors in your brain that give you a positive sensation similar to that of morphine. Endorphins can instantly lift your mood and remarkably reduce your perception of pain.
While the benefits of exercising have been well documented for centuries, only in 2008 were researchers finally able to accurately measure the impact of endorphins within the body and the feeling of euphoria that happens after a long gym session. Positron emission tomography scans now make it possible to track the level of endorphins in the body before and after physical activity. After working out, it has been found that endorphin levels rise considerably, and medical experts now recommend regular exercise as an effective treatment for mild to moderate anxiety, work-related stress, and even depression. (3)
3: Reduce Your Risk Of Life-Threatening Conditions
While experiencing some stress and anxiety is often completely natural, if you’re feeling stressed out on a regular basis, it can have a significant impact on your mental and physical health. Overwhelming and prolonged levels of stress can increase your risk of developing mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Yet more worryingly, stress and anxiety are also strongly linked to the development of life-threatening conditions such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and gastrointestinal problems.
You can see what the power of regular exercise did for our own mental and physical health by seeing our story here.
4: Improve Creativity
Work-related stress can undoubtedly impact quality of sleep, cause general aches and pains, but interestingly also prohibit creativity. When physical activity is low, and stress levels are at an all-time high, many professionals struggle to think outside the box and come up with new and innovative solutions at work. But, even a couple of hours of exercise a week can help resolve these issues and calm the mind. So, if you want to excel in your career as well as hit your fitness goals, it’s time to find an exercise, activity, or hobby that’ll give you a much-needed surge of endorphins.
5: Combat PTSD & Anxiety
If you suffer from PTSD, evidence suggests that focusing on how your body feels while you workout can help your nervous system become unstuck and begin to move away from the immobilisation response caused by trauma or PTSD. Outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and sailing are all excellent ways to simultaneously work out your mind and body. (5)
If you have anxiety, relieve tension and stress by trying activities that require you to focus on breathing. Yoga, swimming, tai chi, and running are all anti-anxiety treatments that will improve your balance, endurance, and mental health.
For those in stressful careers, weight training and HIIT combined with high tempo music can help you work out what’s happened during the day inside your head and drain yourself of negative thoughts and emotions before getting a good night’s sleep.
6: Gain Self Confidence
Working out on a regular basis can actually improve your sex life, increase your life expectancy and help you avoid injury too. Exercise really is a powerful medicine that has a profound positive impact on a wide range of mental health conditions. The confidence you’ll gain from being in shape and full of beans alone will also do wonders for your self-esteem. When you start taking care of your body, you’ll begin to see the results of your hard work and commitment. The modern world puts pressure on people to have strong cores, aka the famous six-pack, but looking good can make us feel good, so what’s the problem with having one! This goes for your nutrition as well and we explore the importance of your gut. As your confidence grows, this is going to show in both your personal and professional life.
Addicted2Life was created by gaining clarity and confidence by starting our own fitness journey. To see how we did this, you can read the story here.
The benefits of regular exercise for your mental health go far beyond these 6 benefits, but in order to witness these for yourself, you need to start exercising. Mind has also released this useful site on Mental Health and Physical Activity, click here.
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