Top 6 benefits of sports and physical activity on mental health

Mood, Why

Did you know that exercise is one of the best ways to improve mental health? – Let’s take a look on some of the positive effects of physical activity! Here is our list for the top 6 benefits of physical activity on mental health:

1. Boost happy chemicals

Boost Happy Chemicals

Exercise makes the body generate more of the feel-good-hormones called endorphins. Endorphins are the chemicals that are produced when you are for example laughing. They trigger a positive feeling while reducing your perception of pain. Ever heard of the “runner’s high” effect? – Endorphins are responsible for that! Studies have shown, that the more intense the exercises, the more endorphins are produced. So if you want to boost your happy chemicals level, start your high-intensity-interval training right now!

2. Reduce depression

“Exercise is an all-natural treatment to fight depression” says the Harvard Medical School in one of their health letters. Exercise can sometimes even be as effective as antidepressants. Physical activity (such as sports, yoga etc.) supports the growth and connection of nerve cells in the mood-center of your brain – the so-called hippocampus. This ultimately helps relieve depression and improves mental health.

3. Reduce stress

There are variant reasons why you might undergo stress: it can be a result of tension, a feeling of frustration, nervousness or hope deferred. When the body reacts to challenging situations, the outcome is stress. Studies have shown that exercise is a means of riffing oneself of stress, it makes the heart pump faster and enables you to shed off stress as much as possible.

4. Improve self-confidence

Improve Self-Confidence

Physical activity can help you improve significantly on the level of your self-confidence. If you stick to your plan and exercise regularly, you will notice that your physical fitness, strength and stamina constantly improve. If you begin anew, you will see a lot of progress, especially in the first weeks. When you realize that you physically improve you will also feel mentally stronger, more confident. The better you feel, the happier your mood will be. And if you are able to find a physical activity that you can do outside – like swimming, soccer, rugby, rock climbing, hiking etc. – then you will also get a boost in Vitamin D, reducing the likelihood of depression.

5. Reduce anxiety

Anxiety is often caused by worry. There are so many people with one thing or the other they worry about, some are avoidable, others are not, but one thing that studies have shown to reduce anxiety is bodily exercise. The chemicals expelled from the body during a workout session is very effective when dealing with anxiety disorders. There’s scientific proof that even low-intensity sessions reduce anxiety.

6. Prevent cognitive decline

Physical activity does not only work as a method of prevention for cognitive decline, but it also reduces the risk of developing dementia. It aids in the regeneration of brain cells that diseases such as Alzheimer’s tend to kill off. But even better: If you are regularly playing soccer, football, practice yoga, or do any other physical activity, then your learning and memory abilities will also improve. Even your ability to focus and concentrate will increase.

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Exercise does not only impact your physical fitness but also (actually a lot) your mental health.

It does not matter which physical activity you are doing – yoga, climbing, swimming, surfing, skiing, soccer, rugby, anything! It even does not matter how long your sessions are (even 10 minutes are fine)! But your decision to do so matters! Just do it and do it regularly! Try to embed it into your weekly routine so it gets easy for you to stick to it. Your body and mind will thank you!