Most people understand how physical fitness can help you reach your physical goals. When you exercise regularly, you’ll start to see a whole host of improvements. The Cleveland Clinic recommends partaking in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity for five days a week to improve one’s cardiovascular health. And of course, exercising at least a few times a week can allow you to lose weight, gain muscle, and improve stamina and flexibility, among other achievements. However, working out can also offer benefits that are far beyond the physical; physical activity can also have a tremendous effect on your mental health and emotional well-being.
According to the American Psychological Association, the Mayo Clinic, and other respected organizations, there’s a very strong connection between exercise and mood improvement. In fact, many experts believe that it’s the mental benefits — rather than the physical ones — that often motivate people to keep exercising in the long term. Sure, being able to fit into a smaller pants size is fantastic, but feeling energized, confident, and happy after you exercise is probably what keeps even more people coming back to the exercise equipment they purchased at their local Walnut Creek sports store or their choice of fitness class each time.
So what exactly are the mental and emotional benefits of exercise?
For one thing, researchers have found that exercise can treat mild depression and anxiety just as effectively as medication can (without any harmful side effects). It can ease the symptoms of depression and making exercise a part of your regular routine can even keep individuals from relapsing into depressive episodes. It’s also a natural stress reliever and energy booster, which makes it a great tool to have if you suffer from an anxiety disorder or often feel overwhelmed by your professional or personal life. Some experts have found that regular exercise can serve as an important treatment for those with ADHD, trauma, and even PTSD. Because physical activity can improve concentration, increase memory, and relieve both physical and mental stress, it makes sense that more medical personnel are looking to exercise as a way to treat these challenging conditions.
Ultimately, people tend to feel great after a workout because of the hormonal release they experience when they partake in these activities. Physical fitness offers a way for you to instantly increase the levels of dopamine (the neurotransmitter that controls the pleasure and reward centers of the brain), serotonin (the neurotransmitter thought to be associated with feelings of well-being and happiness), and norepinephrine (the neurotransmitter responsible for memory retrieval and alertness). Working out also releases endorphins, which are actually naturally occurring cannabinoids in your brain that make you feel happy. It’s no wonder that you tend to feel a lot better after a great fitness class or after using the equipment you purchased at your Walnut Creek sports store!
Of course, there are other reasons you may feel more emotionally fulfilled following a fitness class or exercise session. Getting the opportunity to interact with others at the gym, out in the park, or even in your own home can provide mental and social stimulation that can boost your mood. If you’re feeling particularly stressed or frustrated about a situation, working out can take your mind off of what’s bothering you with a much-needed distraction. It can also offer a means of working through your feelings in a healthy way and may allow you to break through negative thought cycles. Some people believe regular exercise can help you think more clearly, as physical activity can activate the ventral prefrontal cortex — which plays an important role in emotional processing and decision-making.
If you feel your personal or professional life is a constant struggle and you feel mentally, emotionally, and physically listless or overwhelmed, you may be wise to visit a Walnut Creek sports store for an effective remedy. Whether you are struggling to get your mental health on track or you simply want a way to consistently ensure your health in all areas, the equipment you’ll find at our Walnut Creek sports store will help you reach your goals. For more information, get in touch with us today.