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The connection between mental health and fitness

The connection between mental health and fitness

It’s well known that there’s a connection between mental health and exercise.

Exercise makes us feel good, which is why it’s prescribed by many doctors and psychologists as a cure for a range of physical and mental health issues.

And if you’re already feeling great to begin with, a brisk walk or a short bout of movement can make you feel even better. 

But why?

Let’s look at some of the research behind mental health and exercise. 

How does exercise improve our mental health?

Whilst we know that exercise can make us look good, there’s also a mental element which helps us feel good.

When we exercise, feel-good chemicals, known as endorphins, are released in the brain. These chemicals include adrenaline and serotonin, which work together to make us feel happy, energised and elated. This is why many people feel their mood improve instantly after completing a workout. 

The correlation between exercise and mood has also been proven in many research papers. A study on mental health and fitness in the US found that people who exercised regularly experienced fewer days of poor mental health than those who didn’t

Additionally, it’s been found that exercise improves mood by increasing blood flow to the brain. According to a 2006 study, this increased circulation helps people stay more energised and alert, contributing to their productivity. It’s also said to limit challenging feelings, as it desensitises the brain’s stress response. 

It’s scientifically proven that regular exercise can improve your mood, mental health and productivity. So next time you find yourself in a slump, put on your workout gear and get moving.

How much exercise do I need to do to feel the benefits?

For Australian adults, it’s recommended to stay active most days of the week. 

According to official guidelines, adults should complete either 2.5-5 hours of moderate intensity exercise, 1.25-2.5 hours of vigorous intensity exercise or a combination of the two each week.

However, we know that this may not be realistic for everyone, so a better guideline is to stay consistently active.

Anything is better than nothing, so don’t be discouraged if you’re unable to stick to the official recommendations. 

Whether it’s 10 minutes of strength training a day, or walking 4 times a week, it’s good to stick to a fitness routine. And to make it even easier, exercise doesn’t have to be continuous. In fact, studies show that completing three 10 minute walks a day are just as effective as completing one 30 minute walk.

To feel the benefits, find a routine that works for you. Just remember to keep moving.

Benefits of exercise on our mental health

Alongside improved mood, regular exercise has been found to have many mental health benefits, including:

Get moving with Steppen

If you need a bit of fitspiration, look no further than Steppen.

Our fitness app will help you find the best workouts to suit your needs at the tap of a button. 

And on days where you’re feeling less inspired, we’ve got you covered. Just a few minutes of scrolling through your Steppen feed is all it takes to give you that burst of motivation. No matter what mood you’re in, Steppen will get you back on your feet in no time. 

As you now know, exercise is an important ingredient for improving your mental health. The body and mind are deeply connected, so repair yourself from the outside in and get moving. Because trust us, even if your muscles hurt whilst you’re doing it, your mind will thank you later. 

Want to learn more about health and wellness? Check out our other blog posts.