For many people, the main objective of getting fit is to either maintain or obtain the physical appearance that they desire. What they forget to consider is the benefits to the state of mind, which is often overlooked when considering why people want to exercise. Of course, physical appearance and mental health are linked, but the benefits of mental health are not often thought of as a primary reason to pursue an active lifestyle.
Regardless of sporting ability and level, exercise has been proven to provide significant mental health improvements, which in our eyes is equally as important as that beach body!
What are the fitness for mental health?
Here are our main reasons to get your brain in shape:
- Relationships – a fitter you will make a happier you, which in return will lead to an improvement in any relationships you may have, whilst making you more receptive to start new ones
- Happiness – endorphins create emotions of happiness and euphoria. Exercise can even be a treatment for depression or anxiety. Just 30 minutes a few times a week can boost general mood
- Productivity and creativity – with the increase in intelligence and energy comes greater creativity and productivity, which in turn helps lead a successful and happy life
- Self-confidence – as well as looking great, how would you like to feel how you look? Self-esteem and positive self-image can have a beneficial effect on all aspects of life
- Stress – exercising can help with relief emotions, can increase concentrations of norepinephrine – the chemical response to stress – and give you a sense of freedom and relaxation
- Intelligence – exercise improves cognitive ability, preventing degeneration and improving attributes such as memory and learning while increasing production of brain cells
- Sleep – while many feel that a big gym session will leave them more tired for the day, energy levels actually rise and long-term benefits include less sluggishness and more alertness. Who needs coffee! A balanced exercise plan can even combat the effects of insomnia
- Beat addiction – dopamine, the ‘reward chemical’, is created by exercise and counters any other form of satisfaction: be it drugs, alcohol, food…
- Achievable goals and social benefits – having a workout partner not only increases workout quality but can also be great for your social life. Meeting likeminded people can create a sense of community and networking can encourage you to try different and varied things. By setting achievable goals and succeeding in meeting them a sense of accomplishment can be achieved, again adding to the general feel-good emotion that exercise adds to mental health.