You already know how important exercise is for your physical health, benefiting your heart, flexibility and maintaining a healthy weight. But your mind is also harvesting the benefits of exercise.
Exercise releases endorphins, the chemicals in the brain that relieve stress and pain. They also reduce levels of stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. Studies show that 30 minutes of exercise each day can create a sense of calm that continues for several hours and can help you sleep better.
In a recent survey, researchers surveyed more than 3,000 Americans who exercise regularly. Those who became less active because of pandemic restrictions reported more depression and poorer mental health as opposed to those who kept up a workout routine.
In the long term, exercising also can improve memory.
Regular exercise gives you a jolt of serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline, all of which make you feel good, but they also increase production of the growth hormone brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). And BDNF plays an important role in forming new brain cells and new connections in the hippocampus, which is a crucial memory segment of the brain.
Exercise can also boost your creativity since the hippocampus, in addition to helping form and retrieve new memories, helps you take things from your memory and put them together in new ways. In other words, it benefits your creativity and imagination.
The good news is that there is not just one exercise or sport working its mental magic
You can destress by practicing yoga, tai chi, walking, gardening, Pilates, weightlifting and more. Even modest levels of physical activity, like daily walking, can pay significant dividends.
So, get out there and work up a sweat, focus on yourself and clear your mind. You deserve it.