Why Fitness Is Essential For Mental Health
We all know that fitness is an important aspect of our physical health. Many of us could even name some of the physical benefits: weight control, increased energy, lower blood pressure and more. What you might not have realized is that fitness is also essential for your mental health. Here are three of the top reasons why.
1. Exercise relieves symptoms of anxiety and offers stress relief
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Working out and other forms of physical activity can definitely ease symptoms of depression or anxiety and make you feel better. Exercise may also help keep depression and anxiety from coming back once you're feeling better.” So how does exercise help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety? Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and helps take your mind off your worries. 43% of Americans say exercise helps with mental stress.
2. Exercise can lead to better sleep
Physical activity helps regulate our circadian rhythm, which controls when we feel tired and when we feel alert. Getting a good workout in during the day can help you feel ready to start counting sheep when the sun goes down. (Note: sleep experts recommend not exercising too close to bedtime.) Sleep is as essential as eating, drinking and breathing, and sleep helps us recover from mental exhaustion.
3. Feeling connected to a community is important
We know how great virtual workouts can be when you find the right one for you. But something virtual fitness will never be able to fully replicate is the sense of community you find at a gym or health club. And unfortunately, many people are dealing with increasing feelings of loneliness during the pandemic. Our social connections provide a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. One fascinating study showed a lack of social connection is worse for your health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.
So whether it’s helping you connect to people in the real world (even if from 6 feet apart with masks on!), sleeping better or reducing anxiety and stress, exercise at the gym is critical to our physical, emotional and mental health.