Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a 4 out of 10 people have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, as compared to 1 out of 10 in 2019. Exercise has been shown to play a role in alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. Here are three ways training your body benefits your mental health.
1. Improve Mood & Increase Energy
Depression is a mood disorder that contributes to feeling a considerable amount of sadness and apathy. A recent study found noticeable improvements in participants’ moods following a single session of exercise. The evidence shows exercise can shift attitude, mindset and mood in a positive way. Adults who participated in a regular physical activity program had reduced rates of both long-term and acute depression, regardless of their age, sex, ethnicity, financial situation, body mass index, and numerous other factors. Exercise has also been found to benefit anxious individuals. Another study found that resistance training reduced symptoms of anxiety among young adults within the first week of training. Additionally, a study in 2017 found that resistance training improved anxiety symptoms among healthy participants along with participants with a mental or physical illness.
2. Gaining a Larger Sense of Purpose
Many athletes report the most beneficial coping mechanisms developed was their exercise routine. Consistent exercise made them feel healthy again and, to her surprise, also helped rediscover their inner strength. Taking control of your schedule and planning time to resistance train or do other vigorous exercise can, in and of itself, provide a sense of accomplishment. Developing healthy habits usually requires incremental progress. For those who think they need motivation to start, it’s important to realize that motivation tends to come after you get started, not before. The current prescription is to move for about 20-30 minutes a day, three days a week.
3. Better Sleep quality & Improved Recovery
Sleep is essential for physical and mental recovery. Good quality sleep helps the brain process emotional information. Exercise improves sleep quality and overall sleep satisfaction in both young and older populations. Additionally, when we experience good quality, deep sleep, growth hormones that help stimulate muscle growth and repair, bone building and fat burning are also released. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, leads to the body’s muscles recovering more slowly, and also lowers mood and increases the release of cortisol, the stress hormone.