The effects of exercise on mental health

Exercise is not just about improving your physique or losing weight. People who regularly exercise tend to do so because it gives them a sense of well-being and is scientifically proven to improve your mental health.

Regular exercise can have a positive impact on depression, anxiety and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better and boosts your energy, making you feel better throughout the long college day.

According to exercise is one of the best science-backed ways to improve your sleep and health. It can enhance all aspects of sleep and has been used to reduce symptoms of insomnia. 

Although daily exercise is key for a good night’s sleep, like most things you need to monitor how/when you exercise to take advantage of all the benefits that come with it. 

However, exercising too late in the day may cause more sleep problems due to the stimulatory effects of exercise, which increases alertness and hormones like adrenaline and epinephrine.  How this affects the brain often depends on the individual.

Aiming to do 30-60 minutes of exercise five times a week doesn’t mean you have to jump into the deep end. Building up slowly at a pace that suits you makes it easier to maintain the momentum in the long-run. It is also important to note that too much exercise, like anything, is not good for your health.

Adopting a more active lifestyle in college can be as simple as listening to motivational music to get yourself going or making small changes to your daily routine. It can mean walking faster to college, using the stairs instead of elevators or taking a brisk walk instead of going to the bar on your lunch break. Every small change makes a huge difference to both your mental and physical wellbeing.

If you’ve had a rough day in college or at work, the easiest thing to do is indulge in a take-away and curl up in bed to a movie. Taking a walk after a stressful day boosts your body’s ability to deal with existing mental tension. Whereas it might seem tough to do this at first, in the long-run your body will reap the benefits.

Regular physical activity also increases your ability to learn new things. This means by taking a break to go for a walk, you’ll be able to spend longer studying and finishing assignments. Undoubtedly this will also make you feel good about yourself.

On a very basic level, physical activity can boost your self-confidence and increase positive self-image. Regardless of weight, size, gender or age, exercise can quickly give people the feeling of self-worth which otherwise would be hard to come across.

Many young people associate being active with the gym. However getting moving doesn’t have to mean taking out an expensive gym membership, jogging in the early morning or splashing out on costly gym clothes you’re never going to use. There are so many affordable ways to be active and all can help improve your mental health.

Author: Shauna Power

Image credit: DCU Sport