How Exercise can Boost your Mental Health Today

"People know that exercise helps physical outcomes. There is much less awareness of mental health outcomes — and much, much less ability to translate this awareness into exercise action," says Michael Otto, a professor at Boston University

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Mental health is how you manage everyday difficulties, your feelings, and how you perceive yourself and others.  When dealing with mental health challenges, it takes more than professional treatment and support to get well. You need to incorporate personal initiative that can help to boost your emotional health.

People with chronic illnesses such as mental health suffer medication side effects, and, in most cases, they live a sedentary life. Lifestyle modifications such as working out can help to improve the quality of their lives.

The mind and body influence each other directly. When you feel good physically, your emotions and mental health feel great.  Regular exercise relieves stress, helps you sleep better, and boosts your memory.

“People know that exercise helps physical outcomes. There is much less awareness of mental health outcomes — and much, much less ability to translate this awareness into exercise action,” says Michael Otto, a professor at Boston University

Benefits of exercising

The source of mental illness is a cognitive inflexibility that:

  • Restricts our ability to process new information
  • Keeps us dwelling on unhelpful behavior
  • Inhibits the ability to see solutions based on known information
  • Hinders acknowledgment of new information
  • Reduces ability to change

Working out has a direct influence on the brain. When you exercise, the heart rate increases, which leads to an increase in blood supply to the body. More blood in the brain means more nutrients and oxygen, which improves neuronal health. As a result, neurohormones (which support growth, connections, and signaling of neurons) and the neurotrophic factors increase.

Physical activity increases the hippocampal neurons found in the hippocampal area of the brain. The area is responsible for regulating emotions, learning, and memory. Theories suggest that the new hippocampal neurons help in storing new memories and separating new and old memory. The separation helps the brain to be flexible while processing new and existing memory.

Deals with anxiety and depression

Some doctors advise people to exercise before opting to take anti-depressants. When you work out, your body increases the level of endorphin chemical. The feel-good chemical produces euphoria and happiness. A moderate level of exercise every day is enough to maintain a high level of endorphin chemical. 

James Blumenthal, a clinical psychologist from Duke University, said, “There’s good epidemiological data to suggest that active people are less depressed than inactive people. And people who were active and stopped tend to be more depressed than those who maintain or initiate an exercise program.”

Decreases stress

Physical activity increases the heart rate, which leads to an increase in neurohormones and serotonin. The hormones improve your mood and cognition ability. They also help to lower feelings of isolation and loneliness, thus helping you to interact with other people.

Exercise forces the sympathetic and body central nervous system to communicate, thus improving the body’s ability to respond to stress.

Improves self-confidence and esteem

Regular physical exercise improves your physical appearance, whether it is losing weight, increased fitness, or better muscle tone. The achievement will increase self-confidence.

Boosts your brain

During cardiovascular exercise, the brain releases new brain cells through a process known as neurogenesis. The new cells prevent memory loss and cognitive decline.

Working out strengthens the brain’s power to build intelligence and memory by increasing the hippocampus’s size. Studies show that exercise enhances learning and creativity.

If your mind is alert, you think clearly. When faced with demanding situations, you come up with helpful solutions.

What if you do not like to exercise?

Many people do not like to exercise because of the ‘work’ involved. But you know what? You can enjoy the benefits of physical activity by engaging in simple and enjoyable activities. Taking a walk, dancing to your favorite tune, cycling, house chores, and taking the staircase instead of the lift are some of the fun and easy physical activities.

Any form of activity is a significant energy boost and can help you have a sense of control over your emotional and mental health.

How much is enough exercise?

Some guidelines recommend 30 minutes of physical activity every day. As you exercise, learn to practice mindfulness.

Consider workout apps and exercise videos if you want guided workout sessions. Engage your children if you want some motivation.

As you look for the best exercise routine, choose one that you will enjoy. It is also vital to select an activity that you can embed into your daily activities. Feel free to select more than one activity.

Tips for enjoying exercises

Many people give up on exercises when they start with impossible targets. For some, they workout expecting immediate results, which rarely happens. Take note of the following tips to enjoy your workout sessions.  

  • Choose an exercise that will help the whole body. Walking, dancing, and running are some activities that involve the entire body. 
  • Set a schedule for the routine. Remember, you can split the activities into a few sessions. If you want to dance for 30 minutes every day, you can choose to dance in the morning and in the evening for 15 minutes each.
  • Mindfulness will help to relax your mind. Forget the stressful situation, just enjoy the moment. Listen to the rhythm of the song if you are dancing or enjoy the cool breeze if you decide to run.
  • Remember to reward yourself every time you complete an activity. It is a fantastic way to motivate yourself. You can decide to watch a movie or buy something for yourself.


Your mental health is important: do not wait until its too late to take charge of it. Change takes effort, dedication, and time. Choose habits and routines that have a positive influence on your emotional and mental health. If an exercise activity does not work for you, try something else, but make sure you are always active.

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