Why is Exercise Important for Your Mental Health?

by | Jul 18, 2022 | Anxiety, Counseling, Depression, Stress

Why is Exercise Important for Your Mental Health?

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Just about everyone knows that exercise is good for your body, but it can also be extremely beneficial for your mind. Working out, even just once a week, can improve your mood and relieve negative feelings like stress, lack of motivation, or sadness. Exercising consistently can even help you deal with mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. Keep reading to learn about how exercise benefits your mental health!

There are plenty of exercises you can do to improve mental wellness, but the two this blog post will focus on are high-cardio and low-cardio workouts. Based on your fitness level and time availability to exercise, you can pick which style works best for you! 

Intense and high-cardio workouts may consist of sprinting, jumping jacks, and/or push-ups. Low-cardio workouts are much less intense and can consist of more relaxing workouts like yoga and/or pilates. Both of these types of exercises have similar effects, like improving your memory, sleep, and energy levels. 

Exercise can act as a natural treatment that can boost your mental energy and release endorphins which help with relieving pain and reducing stress. In the end, all of these effects will positively impact your mental health. You don’t have to be an avid gym-goer to get these benefits. These benefits are attainable for just about anyone who puts in the effort to work fitness into their routine. 

Some may think you need to go to the gym for hours a day in order to reap mental health benefits. However, even the smallest amounts of exercise work better than none at all. If you have a busy schedule or you are at work for most of the day, try taking a quick walk on your break, or waking up just 10 minutes earlier for some quick aerobic exercises.

You can even incorporate exercise into your social plans, like suggesting going on a hike when hanging out with friends, or going on a morning run with your partner. Patience and planning ahead are key. You got this!  


3 Benefits of Exercising: 

  1. Decreased Stress

Increasing your heart rate can decrease stress by stimulating the production of neurohormones. Neurohormones are cells that form in the nervous system, many of which are responsible for positive moods. Increasing heart rate can not only improve your mood but decrease worry and anxiety regarding stressful events or decisions. 

No one likes being stressed all the time, and exercise can act as a temporary getaway from whatever is stressing you out, so you can get your mind back to its happy place. Exercising can also help relieve muscle pain, like tension in your back or neck. The relief of aches can help put your mind at ease and help you feel much better. 

  1. Decreased Anxiety 

There is a handful of research that supports that exercise can act as a mood booster and decrease feelings of anxiety. Working out increases your endorphin levels and gives off the “feel good” chemicals produced by the brain. These “feel good” hormones are released almost instantly when you get your body moving. 

It can be even more beneficial to your mental health if you stay in the present during your workout and try to not let your mind drift to possible anxieties or worries. For an extra benefit while staying present during your workouts can also count as practicing your mindfulness. Try to focus on the muscles you are working on or even your breathing. With breathing exercises, you can improve with each workout.

  1. Improved Sleep

Having trouble sleeping is not uncommon among people, especially with our busy schedules and “non-stop” days keeping us alert well past our bedtimes. A common misconception is that exercising during the day will keep you up at night. In fact, exercise can help you get a better night’s sleep! 

Working out increases body temperature, which can calm your mind and lead to less trouble falling asleep. Working out consistently can help regulate your sleep patterns and get you to bed at around the same time each night. The timing of the exercise is important; if you exercise less than an hour before bed, it can actually keep you up much longer. So, make a schedule, and plan that workout to get a better night’s sleep!     


Hopefully, these three benefits encourage you to start your fitness journey to improve your mental wellbeing. Remember, everyone has to start somewhere, so if you are not an expert at exercising yet, don’t sweat it! Some people exercise by taking a walk in their neighborhoods or walking around the mall a couple of times– you can even do some window shopping along the way. You may even like to get your family and friends involved and make exercising a group activity, which is a great way to make working out more fun. It is all up to you— just know in the end it will all be worth it for your mental health!

To discuss how therapy could help you during this season of your life, please contact me or schedule your free 15 minute consultation.

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