We’ve all heard that regular workouts affect our mood. In addition to releasing our feel-good neurotransmitters like endorphins, exercise promotes a sense of accomplishment and confidence. There are plenty of ways in which working out can benefit your mental health. So, what does research say about the connection between exercise and stress reduction?
As we engage in regular physical activity, our bodies have different physiological responses. Studies have shown that exercise is associated with our nervous system, positively affecting it through specific physiological mechanisms.
Research shows that exercise affects our Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis (HPA axis) – an important process in our brains which could have an important role in anxiety and depression. Regular workouts could induce changes in the HPA and reduce stress and anxiety in the process.
Improved Body Image
Another link between exercise and stress reduction is our self-perception.
Studies show that weight loss through exercise can positively affect our self-esteem, which leads to better overall mood. A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that losing weight by working out and eating healthy (rather than with medication or surgery) can improve your self-esteem.
Stress and anxiety are known to disrupt our sleep. Research shows that regular physical activity can be used as a therapy for adults with sleeping disorders, while also reducing daytime sleepiness and depression symptoms.
While regular workouts can affect your physical health by improving your BMI and cardiovascular activity, there is also a strong connection between exercise and stress reduction. Make sure you engage in an activity you like, so it can easily become a part of your daily routine. Start with light to moderate physical activity and build your way up to intense workouts that will surely benefit your body and mind in the years to come.