It’s a common assumption that exercise only affects your physical physique. While it certainly contributes to your appearance, it can also affect your state of mind. So, if you fall short of the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week, you should consider a gym membership.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on your life, but physical fitness may help to counter these effects. According to a study cited by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), participants who engaged in vigorous exercise on a regular basis had a 25 percent lower risk of developing an anxiety disorder than their sedentary counterparts. Physical fitness triggers numerous biochemical processes in the brain, some of which neutralize stress and anxiety. This is why many professional psychologists recommend a gym membership for clients suffering from chronic stress or anxiety.
Exercise can also fight depression. A report published by Psychology Today mentions more than two dozen studies linking physical fitness to lower rates of depression. Again, this is because exercise changes the chemicals in your brain. When you engage in physical fitness, your brain releases feel-good chemicals like endorphins and oxytocin that ward off depression.
Statistics show that roughly 16 million U.S. adults suffer from depression. It’s become such a problem, in fact, that it’s listed as one of the leading causes of disability. But many people who suffer from depression can benefit from exercise. Lifting weights at the gym is a safe, drug-free way to fight depression.
When exercising at the gym, you’ll probably feel happier. Like the way in which it fights depression, exercise can lift your mood by releasing feel-good chemicals in the brain. These effects don’t subside after you stop exercising either. You’ll feel happier, more relaxed long after you leave the gym.
Helps You Sleep
The culmination of the aforementioned effects makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. More than one-third of the U.S. adult population suffers from a sleep disorder. If you fall into this category, you probably know how lack of high-quality sleep affects your life. When you get out of the bed the following morning, you may feel exhausted and groggy, making it difficult to enjoy your everyday activities. Physical fitness, however, can help you sleep better at night. It forces your body to use its stored energy, leaving you feeling tired afterward. And when you lie down at night, you’ll sleep more peacefully as your body recovers from the physical activity.
These are just a few ways that exercise affects your state of mind. Of course, exercise is also important for your physical health. It burns calories and fat while contributing to greater muscle mass in the process. As a result, people who exercise regularly experience lower rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other serious health conditions. Whether it’s for your mental health, physical health or both, you should follow a fitness regimen.
Christopher is a local author and musician encouraging everyone to get up, get out, and get fit while working with the Charles Schusterman Community and Fitness Center in Tulsa. For your health!