We’ve reached that point in winter when all we crave is a long, warm, sunny day, and reality is the complete opposite. When those low-energy feelings start to arise, the best thing to do is to get moving. Physical activity has many benefits for both your physical and mental health, which can make these days feel a little less gloomy.
Exercise can boost several aspects of mental health in the short- and long-term.
In the first five to 15 minutes into your workout, you’ll notice a mood boost. When your heart rate rises, more blood flows through the brain. This allows for new connections to form, decreases inflammation, and increases the feeling of calmness. Your body releases serotonin, a chemical that regulates your mood. It also releases endorphins, which is a hormone that makes you feel happy and energized.
Research has shown that regular exercise can have positive effects on reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety because of the increase of serotonin and endorphins in your system. It can increase your mental sharpness, which could improve memory and concentration.
Getting a good workout in during the day, especially first thing in the morning, can also help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly through the night. It may be tough at first to start moving before your day really starts, but that early morning routine will fall into place over time when you stick to it.
Stress reduction and confidence are major positive outcomes of moving more. Whether you workout before, during, or after your workday, all of those feel-good chemicals in your body relieves the built-up tension. A regular running or strength training routine, for example, can lead to a healthier body weight and toned muscles, which can have a great impact on self-esteem.
Some physical activity is always better than none at all. Get up and get moving, because you’re only one workout away from a better mood and a focused mind!