Psychological Benefits of Exercise

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. ~John F. Kennedy 

There are plenty of reasons why physical exercise is good for the body. No one can deny that. But it is equally good for the mind !

There are several reasons that the mind is improved after both light and vigorous workout. Here are some of the reasons and mental benefits of workout:

• First and foremost, workout makes you feel better.
It releases a cocktail of hormones for example endorphins which function as neurotransmitters. They are produced by pituitary gland and hypothalamus and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to give analgesia (painless feeling) and a feeling of well-being.

• The mental benefits of physical workout are also due to the increased blood flow and hence the extra oxygen to the brain.

• Coming to sleep, you might notice that when you workout well during the day you sleep better (even deep sleep !) at night. During deep sleep the brain repairs itself so that it can function with full potential when you wake up.

Workout releases natural chemicals (antidepressants) that improve your mood and make you feel happier.

• Workout reverses the ill-effects of stress.

• Working on a treadmill or cross trainer for 15-20 minutes can blow off your tension by increasing the levels of 'soothing' brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.

Cross Trainer
(Image courtesy - Wikipedia)

• Workout is a perfect break and it secures one from the perils of sedentary life style.

"Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning," says Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Ratey, author of the book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. "Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain."

Here are a few more of the psychological benefits:

• Fit brain
• Reduction in depression and anxiety levels
• Less tension and better stress management
• Less mental fatigue
• Natural energy boost
• Improved psychological well-being and self-esteem
• Focus in life and motivation
• Less frustration
• Healthy appetite
• Better social life
• Improved brain function of elderly which can protect them from dementia

A data on mental illness states that around 40% of Americans take medications for psychological issues at some point of time in their life.
This is not very encouraging.

Billions of people in the world suffer from illnesses that can be prevented or reduced through regular physical activity.

Doctors prescribe 'walking' for people, who can't engage in strenuous physical activity. Just a brisk walk, for 30 minutes a day & 5 days a week, would produce amazing results both physically and mentally.

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