The Benefit of Sport and Fitness To Your Mental Health
Sport and fitness are fast becoming well-recognised ways to boosting your mental health. Regardless of your age, fitness level or perceived capabilities, physical exercise will grant you a host of benefits including: better mood, improved sleep, stress relief, greater energy and clearer memory.
The busy and relentless nature of today’s world means taking additional steps in protecting and maintaining good mental health is highly recommended, It could be anything to get you going from playing a sport or going to the gym or a walk – anything to improve your fitness which will invigorate your day-to-day mental buoyancy and stability.
Most importantly, rest assured that reaping the benefits does not require slaving away at a treadmill for hours on end: even moderate and light exercise will give you heightened energy and mental resilience.
And here’s how:
- Mood boost: Physical activity simulates brain chemicals and endorphins that increase levels of positivity and relaxation. If you choose to take up a team sport you will feel this benefit particularly strongly: exercising in a fun and energising setting which involves human connection will inevitably lift spirits high. Exercising regularly – in any form you choose – thus provides a daily dose of happiness and over time your headspace will feel lighter yet stronger.
- Stress reduction: Exercise offers a refuge from negative thoughts and is a healthy distraction from everyday stressors. Whether you prefer a brisk walk or an intense gym session, any form of exercise can help clear your head and inhibit the release of stress hormones throughout your body; leaving you optimistic and equipped with a healthy mechanism for dealing with future tensions.
- Improved sleep schedule: Exercising provides the body and mind greater energy during the day and improves restorative sleep at night. Try to keep vigorous workouts for the daytime or opt for low-intensity activities (yoga for example) if you choose to exercise closer to bedtime. Over time, your sleep pattern will become more regular and your sleep quality will be enhanced as you spend greater time in deep sleep stages.
- Sharper memory and thinking: Making fitness your hobby will reduce age-related memory loss, slow cognitive decline, strengthen neural connections and stimulate the growth of new brain cells. This enables clarity of thought and maintenance of mental agility as you age. Doing some form of cardio/aerobic exercise for at least 3 sessions a week will have your brain feeling in tip-top condition.
- Higher self-esteem: Not only can your confidence improve as you become happier with your body image; but the strength, determination and resilience it takes to keep up fitness as a hobby will recharge your self-esteem. You will have a renewed sense of belief in yourself and hopefully take pride in your achievements (no matter how small): exercise will become your new superpower!
These benefits – and the many other advantages I have not had time to mention – are all for the taking as soon as you make the first step of welcoming sport and fitness into your life.