Benefits of physical activity for mental health. Find the best mental health therapist or psychologist near you.

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Walking, running, dancing, swimming, doing yoga, or gardening. etc. are some of the common activities we indulge in to stay active and fit. Physical activity or exercise is known to be beneficial for our body weight, shape, flexibility, and stamina. But benefits of physical activity are not only limited to our physical health, they also extend to our overall sense of wellbeing. It adds mental energy, relieves stress, induces good sleep, increases positivity, boosts your overall mood and supports the treatment of many common mental health challenges like depression, anxiety, managing ADHD, and also reduces the risk of developing mental illness.

Physical activity is an effective way to break the stress cycle. Muscular tension especially in the neck, face, and shoulders, body pain, insomnia, heartburn, etc. are common bodily indicators of stress. The worry and discomfort of these physical symptoms add further to the existing stress creating a vicious cycle between our mind and body. Physical activity releases powerful chemicals in our brain called endorphins that relax our muscles and relieve body tension. Since our body and mind are closely linked, when our body feels better, it energizes our spirits and makes us feel good, thus breaking the stress cycle.

Many of us find it difficult to keep up with an exercise regime. It is discomforting to make changes to the ongoing routine and add exercise to it. Here are some more details about the benefits of physical activity on our mental health, which can be motivating enough to prioritize exercise.

Increased concentration and alertness – Endorphins, the brain chemicals that are released during physical activity are also the chemicals that make us mentally sharp for tasks at hand, further adding to our levels of productivity.

Boosts energy - With increased muscular flexibility, it reduces physical tension and adds to the stamina making us feel more energized with a healthy heart and improved joints and bone functioning.

Higher self-esteem - Meeting small exercise goals fosters a sense of achievement. When it becomes a habit & priority, it gets us into shape, making us feel better about our appearance further adding to our sense of self-worth and feeling mentally strong and powerful.

Stronger resilience - Exercise stimulates the growth of new brain cells which helps prevent . Further, it helps to boost our immune system, reduces the impact of distress and strengthens our resilience. This increases the possibility of use of healthy coping strategies and reduces incidences of using alcohol or drugs, to cope with distress.

Better sleep - The longer we are without sleep, the more tired we become and eventually get pushed into a deep sleep. Physical activity tires our body and increases the sleep drive. Research also suggests that exercise improves both the length and quality of sleep. It reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and also decreases the amount of time one is awake in bed during the night. It is also true that people who sleep well feel more motivated to exercise.

Fights mental illnesses - Exercising allows us some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts and interrupt the flow of constant worries running through our head. Consistent physical activity serves as a natural and effective investment to safeguard ourselves from anxiety and depression.

Any amount of physical activity is better than none. You don’t have to be a fitness enthusiast to reap these benefits. Irrespective of your age or fitness level, research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a real difference. Think about physical activity as a lifestyle and not an added task on your to-do. Examine your daily routine and consider ways to increase physical activity - Try walking or cycling instead of using the car; get off a train or bus a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way; spend some time walking your kids to school; get active around the house by doing some gardening, washing the car, cleaning the windows, sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming; go for a leisure walk; or do activities like stretching and yoga, dance, aerobics, zumba, etc. Exercising with a friend or loved one, or even your kids can motivate you to stick to a workout routine. Any activity that gets you moving is a good start. Try today!

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