Exercise is any planned, structured, and repetitive physical activity to preserve health and maintain fitness. When you exercise, you sweat, breathe faster, and have an increased heart rate. 

Exercises can be of many types:

  • Aerobic exercises. These are long-duration activities with medium intensity with oxygen being your main energy source.

  • Anaerobic exercises. These are activities of shorter duration with high intensity and during these exercises, oxygen is not used for energy. 

  • Agility training. This involves training that improves your ability to change the body’s position and speed. 

  • Stretching and flexibility exercises. These include yoga, pilates, and breathing exercises which improve your balance, flexibility, posture, and circulation. 

Exercise helps you in building and maintaining strong muscles and bones, helps in weight loss, and promotes skin health. Maintaining a healthy weight and a fit body makes you risk-free from medical conditions such as insomnia (sleeplessness), diabetes (high blood sugar), high/low blood pressure, and related heart diseases. 

Unfortunately, you don't know the importance of exercise on your mental health. According to some studies, physical fitness is the most important factor in improving a person’s mental ability and performance. And it is also said that if you are emotionally and psychologically well, then you are mentally fit.

All types of physical activities are known to have a constructive effect on your mental health, that aid in boosting your mood, confidence, and self-esteem. 

Exercising and Mental Health- Are They related?

1. Exercise leads to increased oxygenation levels in the brain. While you exercise and exert yourselves, your lungs and heart work overtime to burn the fat from within; that results in an increase in the body temperature. The body then drives an additional supply of oxygen and blood to your brain, directing you to higher oxygenation levels. 

This helps in improving the cerebral flow (blood flow in the part of the brain) of blood and also brain angiogenesis ( growth of blood vessels), thereby improving your oxygenation.

2. Exercise drops stress-related hormones. Regular and timely exercises can help assist in both physical and mental relaxation with having a direct impact on your brain health. Exercise helps to lower your stress hormones (mostly adrenaline and cortisol) and also causes the release of endorphins (feel-good chemicals). This leads to a reduction of stress and an increase in the feeling of happiness.  

Hormones are chemical substances that act as messengers to different parts of the body and help in carrying bodily functions. Hence, they have a major role in controlling and coordinating activities throughout the body.

3. Decline in depression. Exercise is known to be an extremely powerful source to fight anxiety and depression for quite a lot of reasons. Most significantly, it stimulates all kinds of alterations in your brain, including that of neural growth (growth of new nerve cells in the brain), a reduction in inflammation (redness, warmth, swelling, and pain around the tissue, that occurs as your body’s response to injury/illness), and the formation of new activity outlines that promote positive feelings. 

A good 30-40 minutes of exercise releases endorphins that boost your spirits. This puts a full stop to all the negative thoughts that are brewing up inside your brain!

4. Improvisation in creativity and concentration. In addition to helping you remember memories well, exercise is also known to help you focus better on a specific task for longer durations without being mentally exhausted. When you exercise, there is an immediate boosting of the brain's dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels. 

All these are the hormones responsible for the transmission of signals in or to the brain, thereby, improving creativity and concentration levels.

5. Sharpens your memory. You all have heard of the phrase, “An empty mind is a devil’s workshop” right? Exercise holds great value and provides assistance to improvise on your brain and make it stronger and sharper. 

When you exercise, blood flow increases and your brain is exposed to more oxygen and nutrients which helps in improving your memory skills and also aids in keeping you engaged in a positive context.

6. Higher self-esteem and more energy. Consistent physical activity is an investment in your soul, mind, and body. Gradually, as it becomes a routine, it can nurture the sense of self-worth and will make you feel powerful and strong, both, physically and mentally.

Now, you might have understood how regular exercising can be the food for your brain. So what is the wait for? Grab your shoes and indulge in physical activities at least 5 days a week and have a healthy body and mind.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.