Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
We all know that working out offers a host of physical benefits, but did you know that it can also nurture a healthy mind?
Western medicine often neglects the mind-body connection, but physical exercise does directly affect the brain. Exercise increases blood flow, oxygen and nutrient delivery to the brain, and encourages the release of hormones, growth of new brain cells and neural pathways. In particular, exercise leads to the creation of new cells in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for learning, memory and emotional regulation. Put simply, exercising our bodies has very real consequences for our minds and can actually help prevent cognitive decline and increase mental acuity.
Research has proven exercise to be a powerful treatment for depression, anxiety and general emotional well-being. Working out releases endorphins, mood-boosting chemicals that produce feelings of euphoria and happiness.
Consistent exercise can also offer a sense of control over your well-being, leading to better self-esteem and motivation. Setting and achieving goals, sticking with a routine and overcoming adversity in the gym can offer a sense of accomplishment and confidence in your abilities.
Daily movement can help regulate your circadian rhythm, help you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper. Sleep is essential for our mood regulation and emotional well-being – who feels happy after a bad night’s sleep?
While exercise is technically a physical stressor, time in the gym can be a great way to unplug, zone in and be mindful. OPEX Gyms give you the space to focus on yourself, while surrounded by a supportive community, so you’ll always leave with a smile on your face.
OPEX Gyms don’t begin and end with your workout. An important skill taught by OPEX Coaches is diaphragmatic breathing. This is often used as a cooldown, before eating and before bed, to help you bring your body into a relaxed state. Breathing exercises stimulate the parasympathetic “rest and digest” nervous system, to reduce the harmful effects of stress and anxiety.
Regular exercise has a host of benefits for the body, mind and spirit, regardless of your age or current fitness level. If you’re lacking motivation or feeling down, some squats and biking might be the ticket to a happier, healthier you!