7 Ways Exercise Can Benefit Your Mental Health!

Getting fit is a great reason to work out, but weight-loss, ripped muscles and abs are just some of the health benefits you’ll get out of pumping iron at the gym! Turns out, there are considerable boons to one’s mental health as well! Considering the sensitivity of the subject, it’s something that we’ve got to highlight! These are literally life-changing effects of exercise that everyone has to know!

1.) Exercise Encourages Positive Thinking!

You finish that last rep and put the weights down. Your heart is pounding, endorphins course through your body, you’re breathing in and out and your muscles are burning… but it feels great to be alive! They call endorphins the happy hormone, endurance athletes on marathons say they get the runner’s high – whatever you name it, it’s undeniable… you feel warm and fuzzy! Moreover, there’s that feeling of having achieved something, of enduring through a gruelling workout, of making it out of the gym or the Crossfit box alive! Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned gym rat, it always feels great!

2.) Work Outs Get You Get Off Your Butt… and Ready to Actually Do Things!

If you’ve worked out, even just a bit, then you’ve already done something and can totally go on and do more things. And that increased physical activity will prime you up to do even more things for the rest of the day! The British Medical Journal published an analysis of a bunch of studies – pretty much a study of studies – that states that even just a 10-minute workout can improve a person’s concentration and mental strength. After all, if you can do those squats or planks, then queuing in a line or doing a few errands is no big deal!

3.) It Helps You Let Go of Stress and Anxiety

Problems at work? Had a run in with some nasty fellow staff members? Just woke up on the wrong side of the bed? Just bored out of your mind doing the same daily routine? Well, hitting the gym or going on the run will help you let go of all that negative ju-ju! Plus points if you put on the gloves and start unloading on the boxing bag! You’ll not only “turn that frown upside down” but convert that into something productive! And that, in itself, is a great mental benefit!  

4.) Seeing Progress Motivates You More!

If you keep it up, as the days, weeks and months go by you’ll see definitive changes in your appearance, in how you feel, in how you perform and more! You can finally deadlift past your previous limits without your spine snapping or throw those roundhouse kicks without tripping all over yourself! That’s great! Not only is their physical progression, not only are you building muscle memory and getting those moves right, but you’re seeing the concrete results of all the effort you’ve put in all this time. That is incredibly empowering and has turned many a shy bookish shut-in into freaking machines! Oh yeah!

5.) Makes You More Confident!

An extension of #4! This confidence can translate into all sorts of ways. If you can survive a gruelling marathon, haul enormous weights, and so on, then you’ll realize that a lot of those other things you thought were impossible to do… are actually doable! It’s all a piece of cake if you just put in enough time and effort. So whether it’s socializing or picking up a new skill or a hobby, you’ll be equipped with the mindset to get at it and get results! Even the approaches you took in your workout – the step-by-step processes you took to familiarize yourself with the routine and gradually get more proficient at them – can be translated to your new projects!

6.) It Helps You Think Fast!

Creativity, memory, reaction time… keeping the body active helps keep the mind active as well! They really – are – interconnected, body and mind aren’t as separate as we think they are, there are feedback mechanisms, a rush of endorphins, adrenalin, heightened circulation and all that affect both the nervous and muscular systems. And it takes mental discipline and focus to workout, to commit to your routine and to go through with the reps despite your body’s protest. You have to set your mind to these tasks in order to do them well. As Yoda told Luke Skywalker, there is no try, there is only do or do not. That cultivates clarity of thought. Bonus points if you do martial arts of any kind, since they involve more than just raw strength, the finesse they require make combat sports a thinking game.

7.) …and Get You to Love and Accept Your Body!

That is the body you’ve made and earned for yourself, it is yours and no one else’s! When you’ve gone through that, after all the sweat, all the muscle cramps, the pants and gasps of exhaustion, when all it’s said and done, that strange mass of flesh that was so unfamiliar has now become your best friend, a well-honed mean machine that’s carried you all this way!

So enough with the comparisons to all these celebrities and models with who’ve most likely gone through ridiculous diets, regimes and enhancements, with an entire laboratory or NASA Mission Control crew backing them up. You’ll realize that you’ve been blessed with your body, that faithful and wonderful companion who has gone with you all the way, that you’ve nurtured and built up through all this time. It’s helped you achieved so much with its strength and perseverance, but you’ve had to care for it too and thus come to know its vulnerabilities, how it needs to be looked after well… and the consequences of when it is neglected.

Get comfortable with your body, cause you’re not just out to get that summer body you’ve dreamed of… you’re in it for the long haul: that race called life!