The Hidden Benefits of Exercise: 6 Ways Exercise Improves Your Mental Well-Being

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Many people exercise every day to build muscles, build aerobic power, keep their bones strong, improve their breathing, and lose weight. But apart from physical enhancements, there are other complementary benefits too. For the past few years, health and fitness researchers have confirmed that exercise benefits the mental well-being of an individual in a number of ways.

Regardless of the intensity of workout or age of the person, exercise offers some real benefits to the brain. When combined with the physical benefits such as fitness and flexibility, exercise gives you the best of both worlds. If you’ve been postponing your exercise goals for months, here are some inspiring reasons why you should pound the pavement or hit the gym. (Not all of us have the time to drive all the way to the gym, and in that case, setting up your own garage gym would be a good choice.)

1. Reduce stress Having a stressful day at the office? Go for a quick walk, climb stairs for 5-10 minutes, or practice deep breathing to feel better instantly. Stress relief is one of the biggest advantages of exercise. Exercise releases a brain chemical called norepinephrine which is responsible for regulating stress. The more you indulge in physical activity, the better your brain’s response to stress.

2. Boost happy chemicals Sweating it out with a string of weights can be tough, but in the end it’s worth the effort. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that are associated with euphoria and happiness. In the long term, daily exercise can even offset symptoms of depression and anxiety. You don’t have to be a gym bunny to feel the positive effects. Doing simple exercises like walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling can help release sufficient amounts of endorphins to keep you in a lively mood. Studies have shown that exercise is the best natural equivalent for antidepressant pills.

3. Prevents cognitive decline With age, the brain becomes a bit hazy. Existing brain cells start to shrink faster and the growth of new cells gets slow at the same time. In turn, it causes memory related problems like Alzheimer’s and common forgetfulness. As the health of brain cells deteriorate, the neurons lose their strength to remember and recall and in turn this causes cognitive decline. Exercise boosts the production of chemicals in the brain that protect the neurons by slowing down the aging of tissues. In turn, this slows down degeneration of hippocampus, which is the most important area associated with the cognitive skills of a person. As a result, memory, recal, and thinking ability of people who exercise is better than those who do not.

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Read More: You Can Make New Brain Cells and Improve Your Memory

4. Improve self-confidence It’s no secret that exercise helps burn off fat and tones muscles, but it also improves body posture – which tends to make a person look more confident. Exercise helps improve self-esteem and confidence and makes you feel (and look) like a million bucks.

5. Sharpen memory Exercise boosts the brain’s ability to learn new things and memorize them faster. Like mentioned earlier, regular physical activity helps increase the production of cells in the hippocampus which is linked to learning and memory. This method of exercise-based cell growth is healthy for kids as well as adults. Studies have shown that running and cycling are among the best exercises for memory improvement and vocabulary retention.

6. Controls addiction Exercise is like a drug – it’s as addictive as any other substance or habit you’ve developed over time – but it’s a miracle drug that saves you from all types of harmful addictions. During exercise, the brain releases a brain chemical called dopamine which influences the pleasure-reward area of the brain. In fact, our cravings for food, drug, sex, and alcohol are formed as a result of dopamine imbalance. Exercise helps balance dopamine levels in the brain.

Read More: Exercise to Boost Your Creativity

Written by Joyce Mason. Joyce is a blogger and she shares, straight-forward insights with readers. Her articles have appeared in several publications and mostly touch upon enhancing happiness and health.

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Lisa Roth Collins is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) and is the Marketing Manager at She is passionate about health and wellness and tries her best to make healthier choices every day for herself and her family. Her journey to natural health was driven by her own struggles with digestive discomfort, depression, and anxiety. Lisa returned to school in 2014 to study nutrition at the Canadian School for Natural Nutrition. She threw herself into her studies so she could learn as much as she could to help herself feel better and thrive. Upon completing the program and being certified as an RHN, Lisa began her work at Naturally Savvy where she has been able to help so many people learn to make healthier choices for themselves. Through her work, she has connected with so many incredible people in the industry whether other authors, influencers, or brands. Plus, she is affectionately known as "Techie Spice" because of her ability to wrap her head around technology. Every day she gets up with a renewed sense of energy and ready to make a difference. You can read all of Lisa's content here. In her spare time, Lisa loves to try new recipes, make delicious and nourishing meals, and she is an avid reader. For more information about Lisa, check out her profile on here.