The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Working out in college

Exercise is about so much more than just physical strength. While it’s primarily your body that benefits from regular exercise, your mind is greatly uplifted by frequent movement, too.

You can think of exercise as a way to kill two birds with only one stone—physical strength and mental strength. College students are almost always in need of a boost to keep them going throughout their studies, which is why exercise is so important.

Exams, all-nighters, night shifts, and extracurricular activities all require a significant amount of mental and physical energy.

If you’re feeling bogged down and foggy-headed with a mountain of work to overcome, consider hitting the gym or park. It’ll give you a performance boost that stretches through the classroom and into all areas of life.

How Does Mental Health Benefit From Exercise?

Several things happen when we move our bodies. Circulation improves, essential hormones are released, and we sweat out toxins that need expelling.

Fatigue, anxiety, depression, and lack of concentration are all by-products of too much mental activity and not enough physical activity. If you’re looking for a new way to increase energy levels and promote better, more extended focus, exercise could be the answer.

Let’s look at five different ways your mind can benefit from regular exercise.

Alleviates Depression

It is not uncommon for college students to express depressive tendencies while studying. That said, every student must have a healthy coping mechanism that supports their mental health.

Even though exercise might be the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling depressed, trying anyways is extremely rewarding and exhilarating once it becomes a habit. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins while allowing you to feel like you’ve accomplished something worthwhile.

Reduces Anxiety

Anxiety is also a common issue amongst college students. It can become particularly difficult to manage with the endless stream of work and external pressures that student life can sometimes bring.

This is where exercise can help manage the effects of anxiety. Studies show that regular physical activity is one of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety and engage the region of your brain responsible for performing executive functions.

Exercise also helps the brain release important anxiolytic neurochemicals, such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and endocannabinoids.

Improves Concentration And Memory

Just about every college student could use some support for their cognitive functions. Concentration and memory are two highly important mental factors while studying for a degree, and regular exercise is one way to improve them.

Physical activity boosts the brain’s production of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. All of these are neurochemicals needed for motivation, memory, focus, and decision-making.

Lowers Stress Levels

Keeping stress levels down is another added benefit that comes with regular exercise. Stress is a constant companion for most students, and learning how to curb its adverse effects is critical for performance and well-being.

Physical activity helps to moderate the fight-or-flight instinct that often arises with high stress. It regulates your heartbeat, keeps cortisol levels in check, and encourages the production of endorphins.

Boosts Productivity 

You can generally notice increased productivity after sticking to a regular exercise routine for just a few weeks. Physical movement helps us feel energized and can promote a sense of personal fulfillment, both of which contribute to improved productivity.

Not only does exercise promote a healthy attitude towards life, it actively helps our bodies and minds unleash essential neurochemicals and hormones that support cognitive function and mental strength. Now those are great reasons to get moving!