How Exercise Can Improve Your Mental Health

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May 25, 2020

How Exercise Can Improve Your Mental Health

We all know the benefits of heading out into the sunshine for a run when it comes to our physical health. Our blood pressure lowers, our bones and muscles strengthen and our weight is maintained. But did you know the exercise actually has a profound impact on your mental health too?

Getting that 30 minutes of activity once a day (and it doesn't have to be high intensity either) can really make a difference to your overall mood and mental health. If you've been feeling a little sluggish lately and the changing environment around us during COVID-19 has had an impact on your mind-set, this could be just the cure you've been looking for!

Here are some of the amazing ways that exercise can make all the difference to your outlook on the day. Let us know what you do to stay active and how you find it helps in the comments below.

1.  How exercise will make you sleep better

Sleep is incredibly important when it comes to how we function throughout the day. Without a good nights sleep, your ability to concentrate, rationalise experiences and stay alert can become impaired (if you haven't already, check out our recent blog on getting a good night's sleep).

Exercise is a brilliant way to assist your sleep cycle, as the two are actually directly linked. Getting in a quick exercise during the day time can improve your overall sleep quality by increasing the time spent in 'deep sleep' - the part where your body restores and repairs itself physically. Not only that, but as you're expending physical energy during the day time you'll feel more tired and ready to rest at the end of the day, which can boost your sleep duration as well.

If maintaining a healthy sleep-cycle has been an issue for you in the past, it might be reassuring to know that studies have found exercise useful to reduce the effects of insomnia. A recent study found that after four to 24 weeks of exercise, adults with insomnia fell asleep more quickly, slept slightly longer, and had better sleep quality than before they began exercising.

Great, right? Who knew the answer to a great sleep was a little dose of exercise this whole time!

2.  How Exercise will boost your mood

If you find yourself feeling a little down throughout the day, getting out and about for some exercise can help in a very short amount of time. Usually, after about five minutes of exercise you'll experience a mood enhancing effect.

The scientific reasoning behind this is that the body produces chemicals called endorphins when we exercise which reduce the perception of pain, improve immunity and are natural mood boosters through enhancement the feelings of optimism and satisfaction.

Exercising is kind of like hitting a giant, bio-chemical reset button that makes you feel a little better about things.

3.  How exercise will help your social life

The best thing about getting out and about and exercising is that most types of psychical activities aren't done alone. Whether it's getting out for a walk with friends during a lunch break, heading to a yoga class after work or even committing to a team sport, getting in your 30 minutes a day can be quite a social activity.

If loneliness and social withdrawing is something you experience regularly, we'd highly recommend combining exercise with socialising. If running or heading to the gym isn't really your thing, this is the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone and catch up with friends, without even realising you're getting exercise in.

Plus, if you've read our recent 'how to improve your mood' blog, you'll know that socialising is a key factor that keeps people feeling bubbly and like themselves - after all, humans are very social creatures!

4.  How exercise combats anxiety and depression

One of the most brilliant effects of exercise is it's ability to combat anxiety and depression. The immediate effects promote chemicals in the brain that improve your mood and make you more relaxed, but long term, exercise can significantly reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

"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," - James Blumenthal, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Duke University

So how does it work? Exercise pumps blood to the brain, delivering oxygen and nutrients, which helps you to think more clearly, and increases the size of the hippocampus - the part of the brain that effects your memory. Most importantly, continued and regular exercise releases serotonin into the body while reducing the activity of hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol, which can decrease feelings of anxiety and tension of anxiety and depression in a similar way that medication can.

5.  How exercise can improve your self esteem

It can be really easy to fall into a cycle of not exercising and feeling down about ourselves. It's not always about the way we look either - sometimes simply not having the chemicals in our body that exercise promotes can make us feel sluggish, antisocial and lacklustre.

The obvious benefit of exercise is that it quite immediately makes you feel a bit more confident about your outward appearance, but perhaps more importantly, the 'feel good' factor we get after being active can sometimes give us the confidence takes to put ourselves out there, and catch up with people we care about.

If you're generally feeling down and lacking a confidence, incorporating exercise into your daily routine has the potential to make a world of difference. Remember, it doesn't have to be running or going to the gym, a yoga class or walk are just as beneficial for your mental health.

A healthy life begins with a healthy home

At Rug Doctor, we're a big advocate of a 'healthy home, healthy mind' lifestyle. We know how much clutter can make people feel on edge and how habitual cleaning can actually act as a really satisfying session of meditation. Amazing, huh?

If you'd like to give it a try, grab out personalised cleaning guide below. It'll include all the helpful tips and trick you need, tailored to your home, habits and problem areas.