With Dr. Olga Filippa Nel, Clinical Psychologist
We all know that exercise is good for us but, generally, we focus on the physical benefits rather than the mental ones. Most people exercise in order to keep fit, improve how they look or for medical reasons, like lowering cholesterol or strengthening heart function.
Exercise, however, has enormous psychological benefits too. I would like to draw your attention to just a few. Physical exercise lifts your mood and makes you happier, by promoting the release of endorphins, the “feel-good” chemicals. It also assists in easing tension, making it an invaluable tool for reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as for lowering stress levels. It also makes you to sleep better.
Through exercise, you will see yourself as a healthier, happier person, greatly increasing your confidence and self-esteem. In turn, this will make it easier for you to connect and interact with others, enhancing social relationships.
You will also see improvement in your memory, learning ability and concentration, as the production of cells in hippocampus increases, as do oxygen levels to the brain. Degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and dementia, can be significantly slowed down through regular exercise too.
Physical exercise makes you more productive and motivated, by maximising energy levels throughout the day. Those “slump” times will become a thing of the past! If you are struggling with addictions, exercise can help you control them and even give them up completely, as dopamine, the pleasure chemical associated with addictions, is released during exercise, mimicking the “rush” your brain seeks.
In order to reap the benefits, you should exercise for at least twenty minutes, three to five times per week. The best forms of exercise for mental health are running, walking, cycling, swimming, Pilates, yoga and dancing.
I hope I have given you some extra incentives to start exercising today!
Live mindfully and blossom!