The benefits of exercise on mental health

Alex Klischies performs a handstand as a warm up. Before going to practice for gym masters, Klischies ensures that his body is warmed up to avoid potential injuries. Sunday, January 30, 2022. (Photo by: Xander Ordinola)
Alex Klischies performs a handstand as a warm up. Before going to practice for gym masters, Klischies ensures that his body is warmed up to avoid potential injuries. Sunday, January 30, 2022. (Photo by: Xander Ordinola)

Written by: Shirali Pathak

Editor’s note: The following article is written by a counseling professional from Counseling Services in partnership with the Southern Accent.

Research conducted in 2020 by Michaela Pascoe from the National Library of Medicine indicates that there is a powerful and helpful impact in the treatment of mental health problems through physical activity. There is a growing rate in the reduction of depression and anxiety symptoms through exercising that can create major benefits, according to the research. 

Exercise can be a joyful or difficult time for many individuals. Finding time in your week on top of work, school and relationships can be extremely stressful and time-consuming. Understanding the benefits of exercise on mental health can be a stepping stone in your journey to incorporating exercise into your daily life. 

When you think of exercise, one of the first ideas that might come to mind is going for a run or to the gym. Although these are great ways to start becoming active, exercise is not limited to such activities. There are so many things that can be enjoyable when it comes to exercise, such as going for a walk, swimming, gardening or even dancing. These activities are known to increase blood circulation to the brain and activate what controls our moods and motivation, according to a study headed by Ashish Sharma and published in the 2006 article, “Exercise and Mental Health.”

Research conducted in 2021 by Courtney Coughenour and published in the article, “Changes in depression and physical activity among college students on a diverse campus after a COVID-19 stay-at-home order” tells us that in the past two years, since the start of the pandemic, college students have reduced their physical activity abilities, which have increased rates of depression symptoms. It’s imperative that during these uncertain times, we continue monitoring our physical activity and its relationship to our mental health. If we want change to take place, we must put in the work to get there.

Tips to get moving and stay motivated

  • Enjoy listening to podcasts? Search for fitness podcasts on your favorite app. You can find episodes that feature athletes and trainers who share their knowledge on fitness, nutrition and other health-related topics. 
  • Follow fitness YouTubers such as Chloe Ting or Jeff Nippard for free workouts and routines.
  • For fun, try a 30-day fitness challenge! You can find free challenges on Darebee.com.
  • Get a fitness partner. Research conducted in 2016 by Pamela Rackow, from the Institute of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, found that participants’ exercise increased after getting a “gym buddy.” People also exercised more when their companions provided them with emotional support and encouragement. 
  • Download fitness apps such as Runtastic, FitOn or Daily Workouts Fitness Trainer to boost your motivation and keep you on track. 

Share this story!

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

Leave a Reply