How Exercise Affects Your Mental Health

How Exercise Affects Your Mental Health

Written by Nicole Eldred BSN, RN

Mental health is such an important player in our overall health.  Studies have shown that exercising regularly can help boost your mood, improve self-confidence, and help reduce negative mental health symptoms. But how?

Serotonin: Exercise has been shown to increase blood levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter released by the brain that regulates mood and memory. When we exercise and our body releases serotonin; so we are naturally emulating the mechanism of antidepressants.

Mitochondria: As we all learned in middle school, the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell! This means that the mitochondria produce the energy needed for cellular functions. Exercising has been shown to increase mitochondrial production and to enhance mitochondrial function; thus, we can reverse the negative effects of stress on our bodies.

Positive Self-Esteem: A routine fitness schedule, whether going on daily walks or following a workout plan, can lead to decreased feelings of depression and anxiety. 

Inflammation: Chronic inflammation often leads to chronic diseases, including depression and anxiety. Exercise has many anti-inflammatory effects, leading to a decrease in depression and anxiety. 

Endorphins: We have all heard of the “runner’s high,” but what does that actually mean? Exercise causes our bodies to release endorphins, which have a positive impact on our bodies and minds. Endorphins decrease pain sensations and create enhanced feelings of joy and well-being!

There are many more benefits of exercise to our mental health. When our brain is happy, our bodies take steps to being happier, healthier, and protected from stressors. The world throws a lot our way, so let's do what we can to protect ourselves from stress, depression, and anxiety.



Edited by Macey Leatham RDN and Berenice Zubiate
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