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How Does Fitness Help with Mental Health?

posted Dec 12, 2020

by Mohit Pabbi

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If you’re anything like me, you want to get the most out of your workout. Most people focus on the physical benefits of your workout. But there are also so many benefits for our mental health. In our busy world, anything that is able to help both our mental and physical health is a win-win. 


Fitness Decreases Stress

So you may be wondering, what mental health benefits does fitness bring? One of the first, and most obvious benefits, is that exercise decreases stress. Exercise effectively relaxes your body and can help with tension. If you struggle with anxiety, exercise can even help that too! It can help by putting a stop to the constant chatter in your head and focus your attention on something more constructive. By your heart race increasing during exercise, there is research that this can actually heal the damage caused by stress in your brain. Even if you are not incredibly stressed, fitness can help you feel more calm and peaceful. Anything that helps keep us calm in this crazy world is worth a try.


Fitness Improves your Mood

In addition to helping with stress and anxiety, fitness can also improve your mood. I’m sure we have all heard of the “feel-good” endorphins that exercise can bring. If you’ve ever stuck with a fitness routine for an extended period of time, you know what I mean. Fitness physically changes some of the chemicals in your brain. How crazy is that? It is shown to reduce inflammation and actually rewire parts of your brain that can lead to depression. Some doctors have even found that this can be more effective than medications typically used to treat depression. I don’t know about you, but I would be much more willing to try a natural remedy before jumping to extra medications. Some other factors that can lead to depression (or even just a down mood) are feeling lost, feeling like you don’t have a purpose, or feeling like you don’t have reasons to get through the day. Incorporating a fitness routine can help with all of these. It can also help with making friends and keeping ourselves social. 


Fitness Helps Us Be Social

As humans, we are social creatures. It can be easy to get stuck in our usual routines of going to work and daily tasks. But fitness can provide an opportunity to get social. This can be achieved by doing group exercise classes such as CrossFit or Zumba classes. If you prefer more individualized fitness, you can join a running club or sign up for races with friends and family. Incorporating socialization in your routine is another way to beat depression. By connecting with other people, we are able to relate to the world as a whole which can combat feelings of loneliness. Loneliness can be one of the biggest factors that can lead to depression. 


Fitness Helps Our Sleep

We all know how much sleep can affect our day. One bad night’s sleep can drastically change our mood towards a variety of daily stressors. Fitness can help regulate your sleep by making sure that you are tired and the appropriate times to create a healthy sleep structure. If you exercise outside, the sunlight can also contribute to making sure you are on the most effective sleep-wake cycle. It is recommended, for this purpose, to exercise in the morning or afternoon if possible. If you are unable to do this, you might want to try a calming exercise, such as yoga, in the evenings. 


Fitness Provides a Routine

This may be an obvious point, but fitness helps provide structure and routine to your day. Getting into a routine and actually sticking to it helps to prevent you from skipping a workout. We all know it’s hard to rely on motivation on its own because we are naturally going to try to avoid activities that require a bunch of energy. By having a routine you always follow, you can make sure that you are always getting the mental and physical benefits of fitness. It can also give your day a purpose if you are struggling with getting stuck between the mundane daily activities in our lives. Scheduling exercise into your day can be tricky, depending on your other obligations. But it is always possible. Even incorporating short amounts of exercise can help you reap the benefits we have mentioned here today. 


Fitness Helps How We See Ourselves

It is sometimes common for people to start a fitness routine to try to change the way they look. It’s important to not rely on this completely though. Our self worth and confidence is found so much deeper than the surface. Through exercise, you improve your self-esteem and confidence. This can be by you feeling physically stronger or by completing fitness goals. If you sign up for a race and train for that race for months, you will feel a sense of accomplishment once you complete it. You will start to believe in yourself a little more. And hopefully, realize how great you have been all along.


In addition to all the previously mentioned benefits, fitness can also help you develop sharper memory and more energy. With all of these great benefits, anyone could be convinced to give it a try. Movement of any kind should feel good. It’s important to find a type of fitness that you actually enjoy doing. Life is too short to force yourself to do something you hate. Keep this in mind when you are developing a new fitness routine. Even if you don’t struggle with more serious mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, improving your mental health is always a positive thing. All of the benefits are interconnected and work with each other to bring you a better quality of life. We can all manage stress a little better and feel a little more calm or happy. Fitness greatly helps with my mental health and I guarantee it will help yours too. So try giving your brain and your body a boost, I promise they will thank you for it.



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