Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

How do you feel about exercise? Love it? Hate it? Obviously, exercise is great for our physical health . . . but did you know that exercise can work even better than medication for reducing anxiety and depression?

I’m one of those strange people that actually enjoys exercise. (If only I enjoyed eating right.) And the main reason I love exercise is the stress relief. Exercise makes me a happy camper.

Today, Ken Myers — President of Morningside Nannies — is here to tell us more!

Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Everyone knows that exercising has great physical benefits for ensuring your own longevity. However, not many realize the mental benefits that can come from regular activity as well. Exercising can do more than build strong muscles as it solidifies a variety of brain functions. There are several ways that your mental acuity can be healthier by exercising regularly.

1. Blood Flow – First, exercising in any form gets your blood pumping throughout your body. As your brain requires a continuous flow of oxygen, getting the blood moving faster will help it function on a higher level. This movement of blood increases a wide variety of mental operations, which can prevent depression. Some speculate that exercising benefits mental capacities because the blood moves nutrients faster to the brain in order to boost productivity.

2. Self-Confidence – As the source of a great amount of anxiety, stress, and depression, your dislike of your physical appearance can be detrimental to your mental health. All too often people look at themselves in the mirror and feel disgust by what they see. Exercising regularly can help people feel stronger, and focus on what their bodies can do instead of how they look. If people are happy with themselves, then confidence will be sure to follow.

3. Release of Negative Emotion – There are many people that harbor feelings such as anger, frustration, or anxiety on a regular basis, and stuffing these feelings down can be harmful. Regular exercise is a way to help reduce these feelings as your energy is spent on other tasks. It is a common belief that pushing yourself to exercise while you’re angry or frustrated helps reduce these feelings as you become too tired to feel anything else by the time you’re done. Because exercise helps decrease these negative feelings, some believe that exercise creates a happier you.

4. Not Just Your Muscles – Exercise does far more for your body than simply building muscle. When you focus on the task at hand, working your mind and body in concert, you strengthen your brain too.  In fact, activities like Yoga and martial arts have been known to alter brain structures due to the deep breathing, meditation, and coordinated movement. Exercise can bolster the mind-body connection.

Though it’s a challenge to squeeze in a workout in your busy schedule, exercise is definitely worth it. Not only will you impress others with how ‘ripped’ your body is getting, but they will also notice a change in your attitude and emotional state. Keep your body and your mind fit and a better lifestyle will be yours.

Author Bio:
Ken holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College.  As president of morningsidenannies.com, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.


Thank you, Ken! I often help my psychotherapy clients incorporate balanced exercise into their lives for all of the reasons you mention above.

Do YOU wish you could motivate yourself to do more exercise? Check out the Exercise is Medicine website. HERE is an assessment you can complete to identify your barriers to exercise.

5 thoughts on “Mental Health Benefits of Exercise”

  1. I do enjoy excercise — and see all the benefits Ken pints out — but I'm rarely willing to carve out more than 1/2 hour from my day to do it, but I really should. Especially as I get older and those calories don't seem to role off quite as easily…This was a very motivating post. Thanks!


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