Psychological Benefits of Exercise

Exercise is good for us. Whether you’re hiking a woodland, or running on a track, lifting weights, whatever form your exercise may take – doing exercise is far better for you than not.

Your exercise doesn’t even have to be difficult or overly strenuous, even the lightest form of exercise is good for you – so long as it is repetitive. Consistency is key to any, and all, exercise.

We all know of the physical benefits of increased, sustained exercise, but what are some of the psychological benefits?

Increased Self-Esteem

man doing plank exercise at home

Those who suffer from low self-esteem or body dysmorphia in one way or another often see their bodies in a negative light. If you’re prone to look at your body with negative connotations, thinking constantly, “Oh, I wish I could lose some weight”, or even the reverse, that you’re too skinny – exercising regularly will help you to increase your self-esteem. As muscle is heavier than fat, even if you’re not trying to gain weight, you’ll notice an increase in muscle mass and therefore will measure heavier on the scale. And, if you are trying to lose weight, then a regular exercise regimen will help you to shed those pounds and build that muscle to get your body looking healthy and get your mind thinking happy thoughts.

Decreased Depression

Exercise has been demonstrated to have helped treat mild to moderate cases of depression. Exercise releases dopamine and endorphins in the brain which translate to increased happiness. Depression sets in when we don’t change our ways. Establishing and maintaining an exercise routine allows us to create new pathways in our brains that promote calmness.

Paying More Attention

Alongside the release of endorphins, exercise also boosts your ability to pay attention by decreasing tension and stress in the body. It allows blood to flow more freely throughout your muscles as they are stretched and made to work as you exercise. If you’re a runner, pay more attention to what’s actually happening in the body as you work out, pay attention to the leaves or snow crunching beneath your feet, the wind on your face, focus on how you feel as you exercise. Similarly, if you’re a weight-lifter. Feel the bar, feel the pressure on your muscles as you haul up a personal best… Notice your muscle tensing as you work. Exercising mindfully will help you to pay more attention to the rest of the things in your life, alongside your exercise routine.

You’ll Sleep Better

If you feel restless, or that you need help regulating your sleeping pattern — exercise is one of the best ways to achieve this goal. By naturally wearing your body out with exercise, your body will force you to sleep better, because it needs to heal from all of the strain you are putting on it when you exercise.

Whatever your reason, exercising your body can only be a good thing for it. Be careful not to overdo it and hurt yourself, but even the smallest change can make a huge difference.