Most people hit up the gym to improve energy, get strong and to look better naked. While lifting weights and working on your cardiovascular endurance will improve all of those, the main improvement that most people do not take into account is how much regular exercise will improve their mental health.
When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. They also trigger a positive feeling in the body or a “runner’s high”. This will, in turn, put you in an undoubtedly better mood than before.
Endorphins will also improve your ability to sleep. Meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy, even breathing deeply can cause your body to produce endorphins… do not think you always have to go ‘hard’ in the gym to get the same effects.
Physical exercise will also help your brain stay sharp. This comes directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors. (Godman, H., April 14, Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110)
It increases oxygen to your brain and reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Regular exercise will often lead to an improved body image, will make your heart and bones stronger, will lower your risk for chronic disease right along with your blood pressure, and keeps your weight under control and reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. While you’re boosting your energy levels, oxygen capacity, muscle tone and general fitness, a side benefit is an increase in self-esteem. Just the success of creating an exercise plan and sticking to it allows you to enjoy a sense of achievement.
Lastly, exercise will truly make you feel good inside and out. If you continue to exercise and see improvements, your positive energy will rub off onto others and will likely inspire them to follow that path as well. Exercise will make you feel great but being able to help someone else feel that same way will make you feel even better.
So next time you’re at the gym, just think how much good you’re actually doing for your body and overall health!