By Lauren Thomas
Exercising has so many benefits to one's health in general, but what many people may not think about is the effects that exercising has on one’s mental health. Everyone has stressors in their day to day lives that may start building up, but we all need a way of letting that steam out before it affects our everyday lives. Studies have found that exercising for even 15 minutes a day can help reduce depression, anxiety, ADHD, and so much more!
You may now be asking, “what happens during a workout that could help?”. The answer is not as easy as you think, but simply put, when you workout, you are releasing endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that are released by the pituitary gland in response to stress or pain and are considered to be the body’s natural pain killer. While you may typically think of this in the sense of being hurt, when you go through a workout you are putting your body through a healthy type of “stress” which then elicits the release of these hormones that act similar to the drugs classified as opioids. Now, it may not be as strong as opioids that are provided when you break a bone or go through surgery, but it gives you a “high” so to speak to lift your spirits and helps increase your positive thoughts/mindset.
Besides the release of endorphins, exercise also helps with your sleep patterns. When we get good rest, our bodies are able to “rest and digest” everything that has happened during the day as well as process information, make new neural connections which in turn will likely help with your mental health status.
Overall, we know that exercise is important for health and well-being, but many don’t think about their mental health as an important part of overall health. So get in the gym and work on not just your physical health but also provide yourself with a healthy release of your stressors.