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SNHS Spotlight: Exercise’s Effect on Mental Health

Exercise is not always about losing weight and becoming stronger; it also is done to help improve a person’s self-esteem and mental health. Exercising has been proven to help with mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Research shows that people who exercise sleep better at night and feel more relaxed and energetic throughout the day. Studies also show that daily exercise sharpens memory with the help of endorphins.This does not mean that you need to “pump iron” constantly and overwork yourself, but simply waking up in the morning and staying active has been proven to boost one’s mood.

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Aerobic activities like swimming, jogging, biking, etc. can act as an antidepressant for people who suffer with depression, just without the other side effects! Antidepressants can cause side effects like nausea, weight gain, fatigue, and loss of appetite. However, the effects of exercise are only positive.  Research shows that running for 15 minutes or walking for an hour a day decreases the risk of depression by 26%. When you exercise, endorphins are released in your body, creating that “feel-good” positive emotion. This is what makes exercising so effective in treating depression. Moreover, physical activity can act as a distraction from intrusive thoughts and focus the mind on something more beneficial. Studies show that people who exercise consistently are less depressed than those who are inactive. 

Furthermore, exercise is a natural way people can treat anxiety. As previously stated, endorphins are released in your body when working out. These chemicals help relieve stress. To help ease anxiety, focusing while you exercise is crucial. Staying mindful can stop a person from worrying and focus their attention on something else. For example, focusing on your breathing; by doing this, your mind is set on how you breathe, rather than your impending worries.

Exercise has many health benefits, both physically and mentally. Adding exercise to your daily routine will alleviate stress, boost self-esteem, and keep you in great shape! People who regularly implement physical activity into their daily routine sleep better and feel happier than people who never exercise. Do not be intimidated by workouts; start small and you’ll see the difference in your mood!

Works Cited:

Robinson, Lawrence. “The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise.” HelpGuide.org, www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm

By: Sydney Severini’22, SNHS Member

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