Mental Benefits of Exercise - The health benefits of exercise on the cardiovascular system are proven in extensive studies. No one really questions whether exercise is good for the heart. However, the benefits of exercise on brain function are less known and not often discussed by the general public.
Exercise has a profound positive impact on the way the brain works including treating or preventing illnesses associated with the mind such as depression, insomnia, mental alertness and mental fatigue. Each one of these benefits will be discussed below.
Regular exercise makes you feel good. It induces the release of many hormones such as endorphins that create a sense of well-being, happiness and reduce pain.
Exercise also causes more oxygenated blood to be delivered to the brain. This extra oxygen allows the brain to function at a "higher capacity". Indeed you may find that several hours after exercise, you are more productive at your work. Some people opt to go to the gym during their lunch break for a quick workout.
Clinical studies show that 30 minutes of exercise three times weekly can eliminate depression in 60% of depressed people. This means that they no longer have to take prescription antidepressants or only need to use a lower dose.
There is even some evidence to suggest that keeping the mind active by engaging in meaningful activities might prevent Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Regular exercise trains your body to better adapt to physical and mental stress and anxiety. Exercise induces the production of various neurotransmitters that are needed for the body to cope.
Those who engage in regular exercise seem to sleep better at night. This may be due to the effects of the hormones released by exercise.
Others have suggested that it is because exercise causes your physical body and the brain to be fatigued so as to make them want to recover when you sleep. Thus, you are more likely to go into deeper sleep.
If you suffer from insomnia, perhaps consider some form of light exercise regularly to see if it helps.
Exercise seems to have a positive effect on the health of nerve cells and may be linked to extending their life. It may cause the release of antioxidants that can further protect cells from free radical damage.
Mental Attitude towards Healthy Eating
Those who engage in a regular exercise program tend to watch what they eat much more closely. The mental benefits of exercise include programming your brain into thinking and taking actions such as eating foods that are healthier.
Some productivity and efficiency experts such as Stephen Covey and Anthony Robbins believe that what exercise does to the mind is more significant than what it does to physical health. They may be right.
The mental benefits of exercise are often not considered by those who exercise regularly. It is never too late to start an exercise program even if you are older. Now that you know, don't you feel even better about exercising regularly?
References + Dr. Covey & Anthony Robbins Resources
Created: March 23, 2010