Psychological benefits of exercise

“The psychological tools I’ve gained from bodybuilding will never atrophy” – Tom Platz

We often hear about the physical benefits of exercise on the body, such as:

  • Exercising on a regular basis can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss.
  • It decreases the risk of Cardiovascular diseases and boosts HDL (High-density lipoprotein) or in other words “good cholesterol” while reducing unhealthy triglycerides.
  • Exercising can prevent illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, stroke, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.
  • Boosts energy.
  • Promotes better sleep.

But not much is said about the psychological effects and benefits that we receive from exercise. Scientific research has proven that there is a link between physical exercise and psychological wellbeing.

When we exercise our brains release chemicals called endorphins, these chemicals act as analgesics and work together with the receptors in our brain which are responsible for feeling pain in order to reduce our perception of it. Endorphins are natural pain killing chemicals which are created in our brain and are known as neurotransmitters.

The name comes from “endogenous” (within) and morphine (pain killer). They are released in moments of stress or great pain (it has also been known that spicy food and acupuncture can lead to endorphins being released) When we get a rush of Endorphins in our system it can give us a queasy/ nauseating feeling or nervousness in the stomach (commonly known as an “adrenaline rush”).

These chemicals are also responsible for the positive feeling in the body and cause you to feel good, boost your self-esteem and help you to sleep better.. Many people report that post workout or after going for a run they feel “euphoric” and “energized.” That feeling, known as “runner’s high” is directly linked to the release of endorphins which has been triggered by physical activity.

There are many psychological benefits from exercise:

  • Less tension, stress, mental fatigue and anxiety.
  • A natural energy boost.
  • Improved sleep.
  • A sense of achievement.
  • Improvement in motivation and focus.
  • Healthy appetite.
  • Positive outlook and attitude to life.

 

These are just a few examples of the benefits of becoming active. In order to achieve what we want in life, both our body and mind have to work together. It is of vital importance that we are in a good place mentally, have the right mindset and believe that we are capable of achieving our goals. As Dr. Langer quite rightly said, “where the mind leads, the body will follow” If we have a healthy mindset and positive attitude the possibilities are endless.

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