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Mental and Emotional Health Benefits of Exercise

New research suggests that the brain benefits from exercise are beginning to outweigh the physical benefits. Besides helping to maintain a healthy weight, regular exercise helps to improve your overall mental and emotional health. Let us look at some of these benefits:

  1. Memory: according to a study done at the University of British Columbia, continuous and high intensity physical movements such as aerobic exercise (or dancing), appears to increase the size of the area of the brain responsible for verbal memory and learning-- the hippocampus. Aerobic exercise stimulates the growth of cells in this area of the brain, allowing for a better ability to remember information.

  2. Energy: like the breathing that takes place while meditating, exercising involves periods of deep breathing. Deep breathing allows more oxygen to get to the brain, which in return may decrease fatigue, improve performance on tasks involving a good deal of mental work and reduce anxiety and depression levels over a period. Deep breathing from exercise stimulates better blood flow throughout the body, therefore increasing energy.

  3. Sleep: a lack of sleep or regular sleep disturbance can impact emotional health negatively. This may trigger irritability, becoming easily agitated and mood swings. Regular exercise, helps the body to relax, especially when done consistently around the same time of the day. Exercise helps to induce a faster sleep onset and to produce deep-restful sleep.

  4. Mood: exercise can trigger an increased feeling of self-confidence and optimism, as it may inspire feeling more in control of the direction of your life/health. Naturally, this boost in confidence helps to decrease feelings of ongoing sadness and anxiety. Research indicates that consistently exercising over a period, yields similar results as an anti-depressant medication in people with mild-moderate depression. Much of this is due to the shift in brain chemistry-- the increase in feel good hormones and endorphins that takes place during exercise.

  5. Improve Productivity: though what may be considered productive is subjective, most people obtain a sense of satisfaction and meaningfulness from being able to meet their goals or check things off a to do list. Exercise, due to the above mentioned (and more) benefits improves concentration, allowing there to be a healthy focus on goals or day to day duties. This new level of concentration and focus becomes a catalyst for distraction to decrease and creativity to increase.

Personally, I find that when I exercise early in the morning I have better energy (spiritually and physically), better focus and a more positive attitude throughout my day. I also find that I can consistently get to bed around the same time at nights and have better quality sleep when I exercise regularly versus when I do not. Please tune in to the next recorded Monday Morning Intentions (07.31.17), as I will be speaking some more about exercise.

Do you Boo! 😊

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