The mental health benefits of exercise
The mental health benefits of exercise

You already know that exercise is good for your body, but did you know it can also improve your sleep, boost your mood and help you deal with depression, anxiety, stress and much more?

People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them a sense of wellbeing. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And, again, it can be a great medicine for many common mental health challenges.

Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, and it boosts physical and mental energy. Next time you exercise, try to notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the feeling of the wind on your skin. By adding this mental exercise - really focusing on your body and how it feels whilst you work out - you’ll not only improve your physical condition, but you may also be able to feel more grounded.

It can also treat mild to moderate depression. Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. It promotes changes in the brain and new activity patterns that bring about feelings of calm and wellbeing. It releases endorphins, which are powerful chemicals in your brain that lift your spirits up and make you feel good. And finally, exercise can serve as a distraction, giving you a quiet time to break out of the cycle of bad thoughts that may feed depression.

Not only does exercising regularly help manage anxiety and depression, but it can also help reduce the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Physical activity immediately boosts the brain’s dopamine* and serotonin* levels – all of which affect focus and attention.

These are only a few of the mental health benefits that come with exercising, it can also provide you a sharper memory, higher self-esteem, better sleep, more energy, and more. It’s a tremendous tool that could truly help you better yourself.

However, we know that the thought of exercising can be discouraging to many of us, and we can find it hard to motivate ourselves to do so but remember that even a little bit of activity is better than nothing. You could start with 5 or 10 minutes of moderate exercise such as walking, cycling, dancing, using the stairs instead of escalators, jogging, etc. The key is to commit to moderate physical activity on most days.

We are really proud of the PE and wellbeing offer we have here at Oasis, with a strong focus in our Physical Education curriculum on the impact exercise can have on our lives. You can read more about this in the curriculum section of your academy website.

Dopamine* - a type of neurotransmitter and hormone. It plays a role in many important body functions, including movement, memory and pleasurable reward and motivation. High or low levels of dopamine are associated with several mental health and neurological diseases.

Serotonin* - a neurotransmitter that carries messages between nerve cells in the brain and throughout your body. Research shows that serotonin levels can have an effect on mood and behaviour, and the chemical is commonly linked to feeling good and living longer.

The mental health benefits of exercise
Leonardo Lins