Have you ever heard of someone after a stressful day, mention how much they need to go for a run to clear their head? And wondered what they mean? Well, let me explain…
Physical exercise has a huge potential to enhance our well-being both physically and mentally. Even 10 minutes’ walking increases our mental alertness, energy, and positive mood. These are some of the impacts has on our mental health.
Impact on mood
When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins diminish the perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine, and make someone euphoric. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” Which can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.
Endorphins also act as sedatives. They are manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of your body and are released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neuron receptors endorphins bind to are the same ones that bind some pain medicines. However, unlike morphine, the activation of these receptors by the body’s endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence.
So next time you need an uplift in your mood; go for a walk, a run, or a workout session at the gym/home or outdoors
Impact on Self-esteem and confidence
Exercise not only has a positive impact on our physical health, but it can also increase our self-esteem. Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves and how we perceive our self-worth. It is a key indicator of our mental wellbeing and our ability to cope with life stressors.
With physical exercise comes a lean toned body whereby your clothes fit better, your skin is flawless, your energy level is always above average and meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Putting all this into perspective, your self-esteem and self-confidence will experience a high boost hence improved mental status.
Impact on Depression and Anxiety
As I mentioned before endorphins are released after a physical exercise resulting in improved mood.
When exercising your mind focuses on killing the workout at hand hence taking your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety.
Get more social interaction. Exercise and physical activity may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood as you for a run or a walk or workout at the gym, can help your mood.
Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage depression or anxiety is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, throwing a pity party, or hoping depression or anxiety will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptoms.
Where do I start and How do I Stay Motivated?
Starting and sticking to a workout culture can be challenging, the below steps can keep you moving:
- Identify a physical activity that you enjoy. Have met a lot of people hate working out but they enjoy going for walks and unwind, maybe you are one of those people. So start by taking the walking seriously and set goals for yourself. Others might enjoy playing soccer, basketball, going for a run, dancing, cycling. So whichever physical activities that come to you naturally; make a plan for it and get started.
- Set realistic objectives. For instance, for someone that enjoys dancing, your starting objective doesn’t need to be as crazy as dancing for a whole hour. You can start small by having 15min dance session, 3 times a week and when you stick by that for a month, then you can level up your timings.
- Don’t look at a physical exercise as a chore because if you do, you will be demotivated. Schedule it, like you would a going for work.
- Identify your distraction. If getting home and switching on the TV will distract you from going for a run; When you get home, first thing first, don’t sit down instead change into your running gear and go for that run. Or even better set a time in your day for your physical activity. The same way you know at 9 am, I should be at work, then, at let’s say 6 pm you should be headed out for your run.
- Consult a medical professional and fitness professional before starting off to make sure you’re on the right track.