The mental benefits of exercise

If you’re like most active people, the hours spent engaging in fitness routines in order to achieve the “physical” results we want may far outweigh any other goals.  But how many of us have actually considered how physical activity affects our brains?

Many people find that exercise gives us an escape from our daily lives, often allowing us to forget our troubles, if even for a little while. Engaging in rigorous activity on a regular basis has been proven to help with depression by helping the brain to produce serotonin. Likewise less physical activity such as yoga, Pilates, tai chi or even gardening can have the same benefits.



Why we exercise can be as simple as wanting to get in shape or improving our self image. According to West Palm Beach resident Alix Romain, who works out three to four times a week: “I like looking good because of the compliments people give me,” he said. “Currently, I’m 30. “People think I’m 21. “That lets me know I’m doing a good job.” 

West Palm Beach resident and avid runner Jessica Maldonado says that looking good is an added bonus for her, but it’s really all about relieving stress and being healthy.”When I work out, I feel so good about myself,” she says. “Running helps me deal with my issues at the moment. “It’s at least 40 minutes of me being with my thoughts alone. “It’s my sanity time.”

Exercise and endorphins

Endorphins, derived from the words “endogenous” and “morphine” is a natural analgesic that the body produces during exercise or even during more leisurely activity, such as swimming or meditation.  They are the brain’s “feel good” neurotransmitters. When endorphins are released in the brain, we experience a natural high, frequently referred to as a  “runner’s high”. Endorphins can also:

  • Reduce stress
  • Retard the aging process
  • Enhance the immune system

In addition to combating stress and improving our moods, physical activity can also help improve erratic sleep patterns and decrease symptoms associated with anxiety.

So the next time you’re feeling a bit down, try taking a walk or engaging in some other form of physical activity to boost your mood. Be sure to check out the attached video on how your brain reacts to exercise.

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