Benefits Exercising has on Your Mental Health

Insight from Program Director Deanna Lamb

It is no secret that regular exercise is good for your body. But did you know that exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health and reduce stress?

We all have experienced stress in our lives. Stress is a physical, mental or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stress can be external such as a social situation, environment, or psychological. Or stress can be internal due to an illness or medical procedure.

Long term issues for stressors

College students usually face five major stressors: academics, personal, family, financial and future. Academic stressors can be caused by homework, projects, deadlines and tests. As a parent attending school you may find stress in raising your children and meeting their obligations. While in school, finances and relationships can cause stress.

How we react to stressors can cause a reaction on your physical and mental health. Your heart may race, you may feel sick, have headaches and trouble sleeping. Chronic and prolonged stress can cause various health issues, such as:

  • Heart diseases
  • Kidney diseases
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Increased feeling of fear and anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Headaches

Benefits on Your Mental Health

Exercising helps decrease anxiety and stress levels. Exercising opens your blood vessels up and increases blood flow throughout the body. This helps reduce the tightening, constraint feeling you may feel with anxiety.

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals in your brain called endorphins. The endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, diminishing the perception of pain and act as an anti-depressant. The release of the chemical will lift your mood and will carry over after your exercise is done.

Increasing your heart rate will help with the release of endorphins to help reduce your stress levels.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is any type of cardiovascular conditioning. Increasing your heart rate will help with releasing the endorphins to reduce stress levels. It has to be performed for a certain amount of time, at a certain heart rate to see the best results.

Exercise activities for aerobics range from walking, swimming, cycling or using the elliptical machines. It is recommended to do at least 20 – 30 minutes of any aerobic exercise three to five times a week. But if not, five minutes a day is better than nothing.

Start yourself off small and each day increase your exercise by five or 10 minutes. Try parking further away from your class or store allowing you to get a portion of your daily exercise in and increase the release of the endorphins.

Physical activity is a great way to combat all of the negative stressors so you can take control back of your health. With your health back on track you will see a positive difference in your personal and school life.

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