How Exercise Supports Your Mental Health – And What To Do If You’re Struggling


Eneko Uruñuela on Unsplash

Whether yoga, cycling, running, walking outdoors, or another form of physical activity is your go-to, many people love exercise for the array of benefits that come with it. On top of that, it’s just plain fun. But, you might wonder, how does exercise support mental health specifically? Where should you turn when you need additional mental health support?

How Does Exercise Support Mental Health?

Exercise has many viable mental health benefits. These include but aren’t limited to:

  • Stress relief. Stress is wildly detrimental to one’s mental health, and finding a way to manage it is crucial. Research shows that physical activity can reduce stress and lower cortisol levels, making it a great option for those seeking stress management.
  • An improved mood. Studies indicate that exercise has the potential to boost your mood and, in some cases, decrease symptoms of depression.
  • Reduced anxiety. Like with symptoms of depression, exercise can alleviate symptoms of anxiety. Not only does it release feel-good chemicals that can help with anxiety management, but it’s an excellent way to clear your mind as well.

On top of the benefits listed above, some people use exercise in the form of groups and classes as a way of social connection. Others see it as “me time” and enjoy solo activities. Both of these things can be rejuvenating and supportive, depending on who you are and what you need. Don’t be afraid to try new things or to switch it up until you find what works for you.

When To Seek Additional Support

There are a lot of fabulous ways to support our mental health, and for many people, exercise is one of them. Positive self-talk, social support, work-life balance, and sleep are also incredibly important. Taking care of your mental health often means implementing a number of these things into your life and getting to know yourself so that you can best support your overall well-being. That said, nothing can replace the support of a professional. If you are seeking medical or mental health advice, it is imperative to reach out to a licensed medical or mental health professional who can help.

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