Exercise has been proven time and time again to have great benefits for our health. Our physical, as well as our mental health, can be vastly improved. Now, plenty of people will say that they are too busy to incorporate exercise into their everyday lives. The ugly truth is, physical activity should be a part of all of our schedules. Health, longevity and vitality are the most commonly known benefits. But, not a lot of people know of the positive mental, the psychological effect. The thing is, physical exercise is one of the best ways to improve mental health and wellbeing. It is mostly a proactive way of getting out of your head and relieving stress. It is a method that applies to the long run. It requires work, sweat, dedication and discipline. Let us go over the benefits of physical exercise on our long-term mental health.
1. Effects of physical activity on sleep patterns
If you are physically active, chances are that your sleep is much more efficient. The circadian rhythm is a term that we will focus on a lot. Basically, it is the reason why most of us feel sleepy when night falls. On the other side, spending time in the sunlight helps with aligning your internal clock. Melatonin is the sleep chemical. It sends off the signal that it is time for bed. Different people react differently to certain routines. Nevertheless, there are some common practices. You would typically reap the most benefits from exercising in the morning, the first thing when you wake up. Exercise anywhere from 6 AM to about 8:30 PM is proven time and time again to be the most beneficial period. Following such patterns has great effects on preventing cortisol, the stress hormone, from being formed. Consider adopting an early bird exercise pattern.
2. Fighting depression
Physical activity is one of the best ways of fighting off depression. It is a natural way of lifting your spirits, at least temporarily. Keep doing it and over time you will build up a solid foundation for fighting clinical depression. It keeps you engaged and doing something to put your mind off of things. And if you do not have anything on your mind, it keeps you going. There is a reason why physical activity is considered the best thing to do when wanting out of the gutter. It is something that you can have immediate effect and impact on. The effects of training are quickly apparent, especially for newbies. It is the quickest and most obvious way of improving yourself. When you witness the slight improvements, you will have the motivation to keep going. In some time, you will be unrecognisable, both physically and mentally.
3. Stress management
The modern plight of humans is stress. It is the main source of general dissatisfaction and mental hindrances. It affects everyone and anyone, no matter who or where you are. Humans have always dealt with stress, but not at this level or frequency. Simply put, we are not biologically equipped to handle it to the extent it is presented to us in these modern times. Some of it is fine, in moderate quantities. But most of us experience more than our fair share, throughout our lives. Physical exercise is a godsend when it comes to stress. Some may like cycling while others prefer more demanding regiments like powerlifting. Whatever it may be, choose your poison and commit to it. Being able to physically relieve yourself from stress in a constructive way is a win-win situation. Stress your muscles and concentrate on getting those last reps and miles.
4. Confidence and self-worth
Exercising is not easy. And that is the entire point. Fewer and fewer people are doing it. Just by committing to the most basic regiment, you are in front of the competition. Some disciplines like cycling require a certain level of readiness. Witnessing yourself becoming better at your chosen discipline will do wonders for your self-confidence. Putting on plates on those bars is a great experience. Putting on muscle while losing body fat is one of the best feelings out there. Hitting milestones that you have set for yourself is one of the finest ways to prove yourself to the person that matters the most. And that person is you. Convincing yourself of your self-worth through deeds and achievements is the best way towards confidence there is. Later on, you will experience external approval. Other people will also notice your positive changes and will further encourage your endeavours.
5. Preserving mental performance
Many studies have confirmed that physical activity preserves mental longevity and performance. For instance, take this research done in Denmark. Neuron health benefits greatly from increased blood flow and activity. Also, it creates new ones with prolonged activity. Endurance activities such as running, hiking and cycling are great for preventing neurological diseases. Everyone has heard of Parkinson’s, disease and Alzheimer’s. Sure, there is a genetic component to these types of ailments. But it has been proven that physical activity can decrease the chances of these diseases manifesting. With exercise, more blood, oxygen and nutrients will reach your brain and feed it. Thus, your neuron function will be preserved for longer. Basically, if you have a creative block of some kind, try going out for a run. The chances are you will come up with something in the middle of your routine. Try it the next time and see for yourself.
6. Social life
Physical activities are always better with company. It makes more sense to go out hiking, running or cycling with someone to keep us engaged more. Some people may enjoy solo activities more. And there is nothing wrong with that. It could be used to clear your head and recharge your batteries. But know that you would be missing out greatly. It can also be an opportunity to increase the quality of your social life. Try to surround yourself with people with similar interests. If you like mountain biking, get yourself a quality mountain bike and start a group thing with other people. Cycling in particular is a great social activity. It leaves plenty of room and options to communicate and socialize while exercising at the same time. Share it with your family, friends and co-workers, you will be surprised with the growth of your mutual connection.
7. Gaining control over oneself
There are so many things in our lives we have no control over. Therefore, it makes sense that we should strive to grasp the things that we can have control over. It is the key ingredient in gaining independence and maturity. Physical activity is a very rare phenomenon that we have immediate control over. We can get up right now and run for however long we can. Cycling allows us to control the means of transportation. If you are environmentally conscious, cycling or running is a great, eco-friendly way of getting around. It allows you to be independent of circumstances and other people. Say that there is heavy traffic. Just go on your bike and circumvent all of that mess. It is healthy, it will give you time to clear your mind and you keep the environment that much cleaner. And if you want to get in shape, it does not have to cost you a dime.
Exercise has an incredible impact on anyone’s life. Mostly positive, at that. Besides the obvious physical and longevity aspects, mental benefits are often the ones that are neglected in popular papers. It does not even matter what you are into. Whether it be HIIT, cycling, bodybuilding, powerlifting or even Olympic disciplines, it is all incredibly beneficial. Exercising can help you deal with people, work and life in general much more efficiently. All you have to do is set up your goals and commit to them for a better, more fulfilled life.