Hitting the gym has some obvious physical benefits, of which almost everyone is aware. Exercising at the gym is the best way to get stronger and fitter. Workouts also help in losing weight and are critical in fighting aging and reducing risk for many unpleasant and serious diseases and conditions.
But guess what, hitting the gym isn't just about the body. In fact, exercise has as many benefits for mental health as it does for your physical form. It's even more important now with a pandemic that has affected many of us physically, socially and mentally.
Here are the five biggest mental health benefits of going to the gym.
It Releases Endorphins
Endorphins are the brain chemicals associated with pleasure, happiness, and euphoria. Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins in the brain directly. In practical terms, this means that going to the gym is actually one of the absolute best ways to improve your general mood. Endorphins are your body's natural way of rewarding you for working out.
Less Anxiety and Stress
Stress and anxiety can make life miserable. If not addressed, stress and tension can even contribute to the development of serious mental illnesses. Fortunately, working out is one of the best stress relievers there is. Working out decreases the presence of stress hormones such as cortisol. Focusing on exercise also helps distract the mind, providing a relief from worry and anxiety. Exercise is also useful for addressing the physical signs of stress, such as tight, tense muscles.
Working out on your own is beneficial, of course, but it does lack any sort of connection to others. People who are socially isolated are much more likely to suffer from mental health problems. Hitting the gym for a group workout class is a great way to feel more connected. A sense of camaraderie and team spirit is common in fitness classes.
Improved Confidence and Self-Esteem
Exercise makes you look better. It also allows you to build a stronger, more capable body. Both of these benefits serve to increase confidence and enhance your self-esteem. In addition, a demanding workout at the gym is a serious challenge. When you overcome a big challenge, you have a natural sense of pride and accomplishment. Surmounting challenges also improves resilience.
Better Brain Health
Working out does a lot for the brain. Exercise reduces brain inflammation and promotes neural growth. These effects help forestall the negative impact of aging on the brain. Fitting regular gym sessions into your schedule will thus lower risk for dementia, age-related memory loss, and Alzheimer's.
The extensive physical benefits of exercise are already sufficient on their own to make regular exercise worthwhile. Still, the powerful ways working out improves your mental health adds even further reason to making hitting the gym a priority.