So most of us probably know the benefits of regular exercise on our physical health, but do you know the ins and outs of the positive impact that it can have on your mental health as well? With so much emphasis on mental illnesses since the crazy year that was 2020, it has never been more important to take steps to look after our mental health. So without further ado, here are 4 ways exercise can impact our mental health:
1. Improved mood
We’ll start with the most obvious, yet in some ways most amazing benefit of exercise, we’re less moody! Undertaking any form of physical exercise, even for as little as 10 minutes (yeah, it works that quick) can help you to feel more alert, and in turn switch that frown upside down (sorry, we had to!) When we exercise, our bodies the aforementioned endorphins; and it’s this “endorphin rush” that brings about that positive feeling we get after a workout. In the long term, regularly triggering these hormones can help to reduce the occurrence of depression and other related mental illnesses. Surely that’s reason enough?
2. Decreased stress
Woop woop! I think this something we all need a bit of right now! If you have done an intense workout before, you will know that feeling of getting home, showering and falling straight to sleep (aka Heaven). Regular exercise can, over time, improve your ability to get to sleep in the night, and improve overall sleep quality through more undisturbed sleep. This helps your body to enter a much calmer state, and reducing those pesky stress hormones within the bad, which usually results in the following; A calm body = A calm mind.
3. Improved confidence
As I’m sure we all know, how we perceive ourselves has a massive impact on our mental health. Feeling like we don’t have control over our bodies, coupled with the pressures of social media can lead to us holding onto some seriously negative thoughts about the way we look, which we know just like a domino can then start affect other areas of our lives. We’ve already explained how exercise improves our moods, but the increased endorphins can also boost our self-esteem in the same way. Providing a better mood, along with a sense of self-satisfaction for having completed a workout and getting closer to achieving our goals. This is the cornerstone to all high self-esteem, set ourselves challenges and smash them!
4. Reduced risk of dementia
For the longer-term thinkers, it can also reduce the risk of the heart-breaking illness Dementia. Light to moderate physical activity that increase your heart rate, will increase the amount of oxygen that is being supplied to the brain. This provides the perfect environment for growth of brain cells which in turn means improved memory and a reduced risk of dementia as we age. It is also thought that dementia may be reduced through physical activity, as a result of reduced cholesterol and blood pressure brought about by regular exercise.
Our mind is a fabulous muscle ladies, and just like all the other muscles in our body, it needs training regularly in order for it to stay healthy. If the physical health benefits do not motivate you on their own, then perhaps these mental benefits can be a start in pushing you in the direction, or reminding you why to keep going!
Written by Personal Trainer, Kimberley Boparai
At jrny, we are made up of a team of Sports Scientists, Chartered Nutritionists. We want to make sure that we’re not just putting up the pseudo-science you’d see on other sites. If any of our staff put anything on our blog that relates to your health, you can bet that it is backed by evidence-based science! It always will be. That’s our commitment to you.
Citroner, G. (2019) Here’s Why Aerobic Exercise May Protect Aging Brains From Dementia
Ekkekakis, P. (2013) Routledge Handbook of Physical Activity and Mental Health NewYork:Routledge
Harvard Medical School (2020) Exercising to Relax [Online] Available from:
Sharma, A., Madaan, V., Petty, F. D. (2006) Exercise for Mental Healthy. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry, 8(2), p.106