The physical benefits of exercise are widely known – looking and feeling more in shape, having more energy, and living a longer and healthier life are just some of these benefits. Believe it or not, the positive effects of exercise extend far beyond that of your physical well-being. The benefits of exercise extend to your mental and emotional capacities as well. I would like to take this opportunity to shed some light on these lesser-known benefits of exercise.
In a study published in 2014, researchers found that having better cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with faster psychomotor speeds, or reaction time, improved cognitive function, and better verbal memory. This led researchers to conclude that being in aerobatic shape can lead to long-term improvements in cognitive function.
The American Psychological Association conducted a study on stress and exercise and found that exercise is a valuable way to effectively manage stress. While you cannot totally make stressors go away, you can learn to cope with stress, and exercise is one of the most highly regarded ways of going about this. Yoga, running, and walking are some of the most popular exercises that help people cope with stress.
Exercise can also help alleviate depression. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins. These chemicals then circulate throughout your body, eventually interacting with receptors in your brain that are responsible for reducing your perception of pain. Additionally, endorphins create a positive feeling in your body, which can be described as “euphoric”. Endorphins are what create a “runner’s high”, which is characterized by a positive outlook on life.
That being said, endorphins can help alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression. If you are experiencing anxiety or depression, I would highly recommend trying to ramp up your exercise routine. It can be as simple as going on a 30-minute walk or a 15-minute jog a few times a week. You will be surprised by how quickly your body, both physically and emotionally, responds to daily exercise.
Exercise is one of the most underutilized therapeutic techniques, and as you may have guessed, it is something I often recommend to my clients who are struggling with anxiety or depression.
If you find that you are experiencing chronic high levels of stress, anxiety, or depression, or are in need of a couples therapist or teen therapist in the South Bay area, please reach out to me using my online contact form or by giving me a call today. I hope to hear from you soon!