How does exercise affect your mind and mood?

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for Exercise.com. He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

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  • Regular exercise improves overall health, but also mental health.
  • Focus and concentration are improved by regular exercise.
  • Depression and anxiety sufferers benefit in tangible ways from regular exercise.

Engaging in regular exercise is a great health strategy to improve your physical fitness. It helps keep your bones, joints, and muscles healthy. Aerobic activities, for example, strengthen your heart and lower the risk of developing osteoporosis. Exercising daily helps keep the physical body fit by burning fat and helping to build muscle which in turn burns more fat, even when the individual is at rest.

Not all the benefits associated with regular exercise are physical, and you may be wondering, “How does exercise affect your mind and mood?”

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Exercise and Mental Health

Exercising is something that is recommended for most people. Finding time to get physical during your day can be challenging, but doing so can pay off in several ways.

For one thing, exercising makes the body produce endorphins, which are known as the “feel-good” hormone, and are explained in the video below:

If you can’t find time in your schedule for a longer workout session, think about ways you can increase your level of physical activity in smaller increments. Exercising for ten minutes at a time will help you look and feel better.

You can start with something simple, such as:

  • Setting your alarm a few minutes earlier so you can stretch or do morning yoga
  • Parking a little further from your destination so you walk more
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
Regular exercise is vital to your mental wellness, says Mental Health expert, Wendie V. of WellnessGrind.com.  Exercise can help your mental health by:
  • Training your brain to relieve stress through physical exertion
  • Refocusing your attention from harmful mental narratives to positive goal setting
  • Connecting you to a network of peers and a community of people achieving physical wellness

How Does Exercise Affect Your Focus and Concentration?

When you exercise, chemical changes occur in your brain. Levels of dopamine and serotonin increase, making you feel calm and happy.

When you are in this emotional state you are able to focus on tasks better and pay attention for longer periods of time. Being able to focus and think more clearly gives morale a boost, which in turn encourages you to continue with the activity.

In studies conducted on children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), a link was noted between exercise and improved ability to pay attention in school.

Participants who ran before class for between 15-45 minutes were able to stay seated longer than those who did not exercise. This positive outcome was observed for between two and four hours after the workout session.

How Does Exercise Affect Depression?

People suffering from depression have described that living with this condition is like being in fog or a pit. It robs them of the ability to muster the energy or enthusiasm to enjoy everyday life. For some sufferers, simply getting out of bed is challenging.

This emotional disorder also affects memory, leaving the individual struggling to deal with everyday functions.

Research studies have shown that people who exercise while depressed often feel better after a single workout session. They reported feeling less anger, tiredness, and tension after engaging in some physical activity.

How Does Exercise Affect Anxiety?

Anxiety is related to depression. Instead of feeling down or low, an individual with an anxiety disorder may report feeling tense or worried insofar as they are unable to keep their concerns in perspective. Along with this feeling of unease, the individual may be jumpy or irritable.

A person with an anxiety disorder may also find it hard to focus on a task. They may be easily startled or experience muscle tension, nausea or have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep through the night.

Regular exercise can help a person with anxiety in the same way it benefits a person with depression. The individual who is exercising regularly is changing their brain chemistry.

When serotonin and dopamine levels increase, the affected person naturally feels calmer and more in control. Serotonin and dopamine curb the “fight or flight” instinct that anxiety triggers, encouraging perspective on issues and stress, rather than panic.

Regular exercise has numerous positive benefits for the mood and the mind. It helps improve focus and provides the individual with a longer attention span. Other benefits of physical activity include a calmer, more positive outlook due to changes in the brain chemistry.

The first step is to commit to a plan. Go PRO today to find a workout plan that works for you.

See for yourself – Meet with the Exercise.com Team today.