While physical exercises are deemed necessary to keep the body in shape, they bring additional benefits that are inadequately acknowledged by the social sciences. Debates are on, on why the sports and fitness industry is booming with aid from various organizations but there is little or no attention on a graver issue, mental health! What these discourses tend to omit is the coherence between physical workouts and mental well-being.
Numerous studies have shown that there is a direct link between physical activities and psychological welfare. Workouts have been proven to reduce cognitive decline. It enables you to fight stress and anxiety thereby boosting morale and self-esteem.
Although physical workout has assured mental health benefits, care must be taken while choosing the suitable exercise. Therefore, let us first understand what exactly constitutes a physical workout.
What is Physical Workout?
Oftentimes, the physical workout is confused with physical work. While physical work is a broader term, workout is a small part of it. The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes physical activity as, “any bodily movement produced by the skeletal muscles that require energy expenditure”. This implies that any move that the body makes which involves muscle-movement comes under physical activity. This could include something as basic as a walk, which in no way guarantees mental peace unless it is a walk to your favorite eatery! On the other hand, a Physical workout is a structured conditioning of the body through regular exercises.
Given below are some assured mental health benefits that we can get from a regular workout habit.
1. Improved Cognitive Function
Physical exercises strike the body directly which prompts physiological reactions that reduce inflammation. It stimulates chemicals such as endorphins that reduce pain perception of the body and boost pleasure which makes us better capable of tackling hard-hitting situations. Exercises, especially aerobics, feed brain with the much-needed nutrients and oxygen that promotes the growth factor in the body. It helps in the production of fresh brain cells that further strengthens our thinking and focusing abilities. Various research findings state that the part of the brain that is responsible for decision-making and memory enlarges when we exercise. Neurologists suggest that people with little or no physical exercise schedule in their middle-age tend to have a smaller brain in old age. Therefore, we must develop the practice of exercising regularly to clear the mental fog.
2. Escalated Confidence
Physical exercise can be associated with developing better self-esteem in individuals. Self-esteem can be defined as the lens through which one sees oneself in terms of abilities, and body perception constitutes a major chunk of it. In a society that is obsessed with ideal body image, the appealing muscle tone and body shape through exercise can do wonders in boosting self-esteem. An article by Total Shape discusses the exercise that you must include in your workouts to get the perfect buttocks. Besides these benefits, since exercise includes setting a goal and achieving it, it brings a sense of accomplishment that boosts our morale. There are various other mechanisms by which exercise helps in better evaluation of self.
3. Reduced Anxiety and Depression
It is an established belief that regular exercise can prevent a host of health problems that arise due to unhealthy eating habits, poor work-life balance, and unavailability of unadulterated eatables. Other than that, it also helps the body to curb psychological disorders such as anxiety, OCD, depression, etc. Exercising makes the brain release cannabis-like brain chemicals such as endogenous cannabinoids that enriches our sense of welfare. Physical workout starts a torrent of biological events that lead to reduced cardiovascular problems, healthy liver, and lowered blood pressure that lessens the impact of psychological disorders. It triggers the brain to release a chemical, norepinephrine that controls the brain’s response to stress and anxiety. And with stress under control, we can enjoy a sound sleep as looming stress-spooks rob us of a peaceful crash out.
4. Enhanced Social Life
If you are a lazy-bone who gets anxious upon getting invitations to social gatherings, exercise could be your saviour! It might not help you devise a polite rejection but will certainly make you better ready to crawl out of your cocoon. We often tend to assign personality traits to people who do not socialize much as introverts or reserved, while in reality, they could be just lethargic. As discussed above, with regular physical exercise we feel happier and more content which increases our interest in exploring new places and meeting people in general. With a balanced mind and a better mood, we are more likely to engage in social interactions. Also, you can join community sports clubs that are proven to be better than individual workouts. Studies show that people who have workout buddies tend to perform better than those who do it all by themselves. Exercise gives you a healthy space to channelize your negative energy and vent your frustrations that could otherwise affect your relations adversely.
Hence, we can conclude that exercise does have a considerable impact on our mental as well as social well-being and the above-mentioned points are just a few of the many benefits it offers. Whether you are looking for a coping mechanism for stress and depression or wanting to have a more disciplined life, there is definitely a social aspect of exercise that can help.