Eight ways that exercise improves your mental health

Why physical activity is just as important for the brain as it is the body

Everyone is aware of the physical benefits of being active. Whether it’s a reduced chance of chronic disease, a boost of energy, or a higher quality of life overall, getting up and moving your body even a little bit each day can go a long way.

Physical benefits aside, few people realize the amazing effects that getting active can also have on one’s mental health. Here are eight reasons why exercise is good for your head as well as your body:

  1. Improvements to mood. Exercising releases endorphins, a chemical produced in our bodies that creates feelings of happiness and euphoria. No wonder people who just finished a workout seem so chipper!
  2. Decreased feelings of anxiety. These same endorphins are also proven to calm anxiety-related symptoms and feelings of anxiety after even a moderate amount of activity.
  3. Reduced depression. Studies have shown that even a little exercise is effective in treating symptoms of depression. In some cases, those miraculous endorphins are proven to be just as effective as prescribed antidepressants.
  4. Stress relief. Something weighing on your mind? Exercising increases the presence of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. How’s that for relaxing?
  5. Improved quality of sleep. Working out raises your body temperature, and when it cools down, that tells your body that it’s time to sleep. Forget sleeping pills; just go for a jog a few hours before bedtime instead!
  6. Reduced cognitive decline and sharpened memory. Exercise is found to increase the production of cells in the hippocampus, the part of our brain responsible for memory and learning. As such, exercise can help slow the degeneration of the hippocampus that kicks in as we grow older.
  7. Increased productivity. A little midday exercise can go a long way in helping you get through a day at the office with a boost of energy. Studies show that exercise has significant benefits for one’s productivity, so think about adding a quick walk to your lunch break routine.
  8. Improved self confidence. This might go without saying, but exercising is a great boost for your self-esteem. Getting out and being active, whether it’s a full-on strength training workout or just a light cardio routine, is proven to make people feel better about their self-worth and see themselves in a more positive light.

To work towards a healthier community, the YMCA of Okanagan is offering a special introductory membership price for the month of September.

This introductory price is available at all three locations including the brand new Downtown YMCA, Kelowna Family Y and H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre (operated by the YMCA).

Take the first steps towards a healthier mind and body by making physical activity a priority today! Visit ymcaokanagan.ca to learn how they can help.


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