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Why Exercise Helps Your Mental Health

prepare feet for running a marathon or long distance
Podiatrist Gloria talks about working as a podiatrist in the UK

You might have heard people say how exercise is good for not just your physical health but also your mental health and wellbeing too. But why is this and how can you incorporate exercise into your everyday life?

prepare feet for running a marathon or long distance

Exercise assists in lowering anxiety and depression:

Exercise helps with the release of neurotransmitters and endorphins in the brain which help determine how we feel in situations we may find ourselves in in life. The main neurotransmitters released are:  

  • Dopamine-  is involved in mood regulation, rewards centres in the brain and movement and cognitive process.
  • Serotonin- is a neurotransmitter that is heavily involved in mood, emotions and the CNS. Increased levels of serotonin due to exercise help stabilise mood, reduce anxiety and depression and promote happiness. It also plays a role in improving sleep quality and regulating appetite. 
  • Adrenaline- deals with fight or flight mechanisms in the body. It increases physical performance and strength by allowing for Oxygen to enter the muscles thus improving reaction time in dangerous situations Endorphins – act as natural painkillers and mood elevators, endorphins also help to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, and promote a sense of well-being and happiness.

Promotes cognitive function:

Cognitive function is one’s mental capacity to learn, think, reason, remember, solve problems and apply all that to everyday decision making. People with depression, anxiety, OCD and other different mental health conditions have been found to have low serotonin levels. Increasing serotonin levels through exercise leads to improved cognitive function and clarity. Exercising increases blood flow to the brain, promoting the growth of new neurons and enhancing cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, and problem-solving. This leads to promoting one’s cognitive function as they can focus, think clearly and make decisions on their own. Exercising helps reduce stress, making one feel more relaxed, at ease and improving one’s ability to cope with daily challenges. Regular exercise also decreases the production of stress hormones such as cortisol. It serves as a positive distraction from negative thoughts and helps you manage stress.

How exercise decreases lethargy resulting in more vitality:

Exercise allows your brain to relax and stop focusing on daily stressors in one’s life. It stops you from thinking negative thoughts and worries and it can also serve as a form of relaxation, allowing you to clear your mind and reduce mental tension. Exercise can also help to regulate appetite.

How exercise helps improve deep sleep:

Regular exercise helps regulate your body’s sleep cycle (Circadian rhythm), which deals with sleeping patterns. Exercising increases the quality of your sleep, this means, you sleep faster as it increases the need to close one’s eyes at a certain time, you have a deeper sleep. The quality of sleep is also increased as exercising reduces sleep disturbances; thus you sleep longer and deeper thus feeling more energised and refreshed in the morning. Regular physical activity helps regulate your sleep patterns, making it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep. Getting good quality sleep is essential for maintaining good mental health and cognitive function.

Ways to incorporate exercise into your everyday life:

You can incorporate exercise into your everyday life in a number of ways, this could be through playing sports, going to the gym or even simply going for a walk around your local area, whatever you can manage to do on that day. The exercise you do doesn’t have to be strenuous to have a positive impact on your mental health. In fact the more enjoyable it is the more likely you will continue to fit it into your busy life!

Are sore and painful feet stopping you from exercising regularly? Contact our team today to book an appointment with one of our HCPC qualified Podiatrists!

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