8 ways exercise boosts our mental health

Did you know that one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness? Did you know exercise has proven benefits for our physical and mental health? Experts believe exercise enhances our mental health by releasing feel-good brain chemicals (neurotransmitters and endorphins); by reducing immune system chemicals that exacerbate depression; and by increasing body temperature, which can provide a calming effect. In fact, more and more research suggests exercise can help prevent and treat anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.

Today I’m sharing eight of the leading mental health benefits of exercise:

1. Exercise is a proven stress buster:
Stressed out? Get moving. Exercise has proven stress-relief benefits.

2. Boost your happiness naturally:
When we exercise, we release endorphins which promote feelings of happiness and well-being. This drug-free prescription starts to work as soon as you do… so get moving!

3. Gain confidence:
Regular exercise promotes not only feelings of happiness, but also self-confidence. It feels good to set and achieve new goals, to challenge our minds and bodies, and to feel ourselves growing stronger physically and mentally.

4. Exercise in nature is therapy:
You’ll be amazed at what a little fresh air and exercise can do for your happiness. If I’m feeling overwhelmed or having a rough day, unplugging, exercising, and reconnecting with nature, is my therapy!

5. Sharpen your mind and memory:
Research suggests exercise can shore up our mental health, and may help slow or prevent cognitive decline as we age.

6. Sleep tight:
Exercise helps us relax and can lead to a better night’s sleep – just don’t exercise too close to bedtime or it may have the opposite effect.

8. Be more productive:
Research suggests employees who exercise regularly have more energy and are more productive than their more sedentary colleagues. Research also suggests we may be better off having several mini workouts each day, than one longer one — so if all you have is 10 minutes (say, at a coffee break), don’t second guess whether or not to make use of it, grab it and get moving!

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