National Mental Health Awareness Month is celebrated each May. During the past few years, there has been a lot of progress in increasing awareness of mental health issues. Though there is still plenty of room to go, the stigma and negative attitudes associated with mental illness have declined significantly.

Your Brain on a Workout

(Pixabay / tacofleur)

Many people are not aware that being physically active is good for mental health. Regardless of a person’s age and fitness level, finding time to exercise provides significant advantages for the mind. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Reduces stress – The accumulated stress of the day can evaporate in the course of a good workout. As you focus on movement and stamina, your mind veers away from your worries.
  • Boosts happy chemicals – Running a few miles on the road or on the treadmill is not an easy thing to do, but it can result in a feeling of euphoria and happiness because of the release of endorphins and other chemicals that induce a feeling of excitement.
  • Improves self-confidence – Being physically fit can boost your self-esteem levels.
  • Exposes you to the great outdoors – If you take your workout outside, you will have the extra benefit of enjoying nature. You will also get the bonus of Vitamin D from the sun.
  • Prevents cognitive decline – Cognitive decline cannot be avoided as you get older, but it could be delayed if you are physically active. Working out prevents the degeneration of the brain’s hippocampus, the part concerned with memory and learning.
  • Alleviates anxiety – The chemicals released by the brain during and after exertion can help relax you if you have anxiety disorders.
  • Boosts brainpower – Studies have shown that physical activity can increase the production of hippocampus cells that will enhance the brain’s learning and memory capabilities.
  • Facilitates relaxation – Exercising can have an effect similar to taking a sleeping pill. People with insomnia can often fall asleep better after they exercise.

Life gets busy, but it’s imperative to tend to our mental health. To improve your outlook, always make time to squeeze in some form of exercise. Help a friend by encouraging them to stay active, too.