Are you feeling low, stressed or anxious and you’re not sure what to do about it? Typically, people often turn to medical intervention, therapy or medication to improve their mental health, but have you ever considered the benefits of exercise?
Exercise has proven to have remarkable benefits when it comes to mental health and well-being. A Gas Station Fitness, we regularly speak to members who have overcome anxiety, depression and low self-esteem thanks to attending regular classes. But don’t take our word for it. Here are five scientifically supported ways that exercise can improve mental health:
1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, hitting the gym may be one of the best ways to relax. Exercise is known to reduce the levels of cortisol, the hormone related to stress, and it also has a positive impact on other stress-coping indicators. A study on the “Effects of Exercise Training on Anxiety” proved that exercise has a remarkable effect on anxiety and its related symptoms.
2. Improves Mood
Exercising is often used by individuals with depression and other mood disorders, as it can have a significant impact on mental health. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins – the body’s “feel good” hormones. Research on the effects of physical exercise on mood states that exercise is a well-documented mood enhancer. In fact, moderate exercise has shown to be as effective as antidepressants in some cases!
3. Boosts Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
Exercise can have an impactful effect on one’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Aside from physical changes such as weight loss and muscle gain, the feeling of achievement that comes with exercise can create a positive influence in self-perception. One study on the effect of exercise on mental health points out that in general, individuals who exercise have a more positive image of themselves than individuals who do not.
4. Enhances Cognitive Function
Exercise helps to increase oxygen and blood flow to the brain, resulting in the growth of new brain cells. This helps with the overall improvement of memory, focus and concentration. According to the Harvard Health Publishing, aerobic exercise specifically, has been shown to improve cognitive function and memory.
5. Reduces Insomnia and Improves Sleep Quality
Studies have shown that individuals who exercise regularly have a better ability to fall asleep and sleep longer. According to the Sleep Foundation, exercise has been known to regulate sleep cycles, improve sleep quality and reduce symptoms of sleep disorders such as insomnia.
Exercise can be a natural and cost-effective way to help improve mental health, mood and general well-being. Incorporating an exercise routine in your life can have a significant impact on your overall mental and physical health. With the information and research provided, it is clear that exercise is more than just a physical activity; it’s an effective tool in maintaining good mental health too!
If you would like to find out more about how Gas Station Fitness can help you please visit our website
Written by James Macdonald – Coach
- Herring MP, Lindheimer JB, O’Connor PJ. The Effects of Exercise Training on Anxiety. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 2014;8(6):388-403
- Singh B, Olds T, Curtis R, et al. Effectiveness of physical activity interventions for improving depression, anxiety and distress: an overview of systematic reviews. British Journal of Sports Medicine Published Online First: 16 February 2023
- Zamani Sani SH, Fathirezaie Z, Brand S, Pühse U, Holsboer-Trachsler E, Gerber M, Talepasand S. Physical activity and self-esteem: testing direct and indirect relationships associated with psychological and physical mechanisms. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2016 Oct