Oftentimes, mental health and physical health are intertwined with one another. The endorphins released from exercise can have a positive impact on a person’s mental health, so staying physically fit is a recommended way of reducing stress and anxiety.
There are a number of different ways staying fit can help a person achieve this goal, though, and some of those ways are outline below. Use the following information as motivation to improve both your physical and mental health:
- The Release of Endorphins
For those unfamiliar, endorphins are any group of hormones that are secreted into the brain and nervous system that have various physiological functions. Specifically, they are produced by the central nervous system and act on the opiate receptors in our brains, which helps to reduce pain and boost pleasure.
While the full purpose of endorphins in the human body still isn’t understood, researchers do know that they are released when exposed to pain, but also in activities such as eating, exercising, or while having sex. It’s known that these chemicals reduce pain and stress, so the release of them during exercise is an excellent way to reduce anxiety.
- Mental Diversion from Anxiety Triggers
Exercise can be an effective distraction from whichever anxiety triggers a person may have. After all, it’s hard to focus on what is causing anxiousness while also working out. With all of your focus on growing stronger, whether in a gym or on a run, your brain prioritizes the body and focuses less on the topic that was causing anxiety.
- Changing Brain Chemistry
Besides standard endorphins, exercise can increase the amount of anti-anxiety neurochemicals in your brain. Chemicals such as serotonin, brain-derived neurotrophic factors, and gamma aminobutyric acids are all increased during exercise. Just a single workout session can increase these levels, so aiming to workout for a small amount of time once a day is enough to see some benefits.
- Different Brain Activation
When exercising, the frontal regions of the brain are activated which are responsible for executive functions. This means the frontal region controls the amygdala, which is a reaction system to perceived threats, whether real or imaginary. Therefore, exercising and activating this area of the brain can help reduce anxiety but further activating the amygdala.
- Increased Levels of Cannabis-like Chemicals
Believe it or not, exercise also increases the presence of chemicals known as endocannabinoids, which have cannabis like properties. These natural chemicals have well-being enhancement properties that are partially responsible for the “high” that a person feels after working out.
These chemicals act on the brain as endorphins do and can help to reduce stress and anxiety at the same time.
- Source of Emotional Release
Sometimes, a source of emotional release is all a person needs to feel better and reduce anxiety. Exercise is a great catalyst for releasing emotions into whichever exercises you choose to do. The human body tends to hold tension naturally, but the flood of positive endorphins and chemicals into the brain from exercise can purge these negative emotions and tensions from the system.
The reason for this is the widespread muscle relaxation that occurs while working out. In fact, this can even be seen in massages and is why massage therapy is also a beneficial way of reducing tension and anxiety.
Taking care of your body both mentally and physically is one of the most important ways to cultivate a positive mindset and reduce anxiety or stress. While it can be hard to find the time to work out every single day, it’s best to make an effort to fit even a short 20-minute exercise into your daily schedule.