Wellbeing & Motivation > The Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health & Wellbeing

The Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health & Wellbeing

27th Mar 20

Exercise does amazing and incredible things for your body. It helps your heart health, lung function, bone density, muscle mass, strength, stamina… The list is endless. What’s not as commonly known, however, is the benefits of exercise for your mental health. That’s a big problem, too, since it really, really should be.

Let’s take a step back. though. We know how great exercise is for our bodies. It keeps us becoming stronger, fitter, healthier, and anything else positive that you could be aiming for really. With so many different ways to reach your goals, too, it’s all easy to get caught up in just working hard and eating well. That’s what it’s about, after all. The mental aspects that go with all of that, though, are just as astounding too.

Exercising regularly and healthily opens up a whole new world of wonders for your mental health. It can do wonders for your attitude and your outlook, helping you to be positive and more organised and to deal with any problems you may be facing in life. That’s just the tip of the iceberg too.

To help really build up an understanding of all of this and more, though, let’s look at each one of these mental benefits of exercise in detail.

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Motivation & Energy

people in the gym running on treadmills

A great place to start with the benefits that exercise can offer is with your motivation. More specifically, how energised you feel because of your combined physical and mental benefits.

Believe it or not, it’s one of the most immediate effects that exercising has to offer! It sounds slightly strange, but genuinely, exercising makes you feel more energised than before you started because of all the positive effects that it has on the rest of your body.

This energy transfers directly through to motivation, which is what will probably help you out in your daily life more than any other of the benefits that exercise has to offer. It can help you at work, at home, or anywhere else. That makes it a great thing to do, especially in the morning!

Stress Release

man punching a punch bag

Another amazing mental benefit that exercise can give you is stress management and relieving stress, in particular. The more energy that you put into your workout, no matter what it is, usually the less stress you feel about the rest of your day.

This is even more effective when you are doing particularly high-intensity exercises. The heavyweights or high impacts allow a physical release to be made, giving you a direct channel from mental stress to physical responses.

Lower-intensity exercise is also a great way to do this too, though, so don’t feel obligated to jump straight into boxing or weight training; even relaxing exercises such as yoga can be a great way to help your mentality.

Anxiety & Depression

woman doing push ups with kettlebells

The effects of exercise go even deeper than stress still, too, however. Physical activity has also been proven to aid in the reduction of depression and anxiety in people.

The release of serotonin and endorphins that physical activity gives, as well as the more long-term effects on attitude and character, help to aid in the symptoms that anxiety and depression provide.

This can range anywhere from simply getting out of the house for a walk every so often all the way through to vigorous training. There’s very little exercise out there that won’t benefit your mental health in some way or another, and this one can be a huge help.


man doing squats with kettlebells

One of the biggest mental benefits of exercise is actually something a lot of people already expect as a result of it, and that’s how it affects your confidence.

As you work toward your fitness goals, it’s also more than likely that you’ll see an increase in confidence, both physically and mentally. The benefits above are big contributors to it, but even the progress you’re making toward a positive change in your life can help. The physical factors are just another added benefit.

The improvements that you make to your physical health are not the limit to this either. As you get more comfortable in your abilities to achieve your goals, you’ll feel like you can conquer new challenges too. Pushing your comfort zone little by little is a fantastic way to boost your confidence as a whole. It’s always worth a try.


woman looking happy and out of breath resting against a tree

Exercising regularly and reaching your own goals, even if they are just centred around making positive changes to your life, can be amazingly satisfying as much as everything else.

Being able to motivate yourself enough to complete something that you want to complete and having real, visible results can make huge changes to your attitude. It makes you feel that you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. This is a great way to achieve other things in your life, and it will show.

Adding this can-do attitude and the realisation of a great sense of self-esteem is a great way to do all this.

Enjoyable, Social Activities

woman on a rowing machine being encouraged by a man

Another huge mental health benefit of exercise is a social benefit too. Exercising doesn’t just have to be about yourself, after all. Even though many of us will find ourselves being lost in our own little training worlds, it’s also enjoyable to train with other people.

There are tonnes of different ways to go about it, too. They all help you socialise and get all of the benefits from that, too. You can get a training buddy, who encourages you to work out and reach your goals together, do a class at your local gym, or even just exercise with a family member at home. Be in it together!

Outside of training, you can also take up hobbies or sports like cycling or football, where you can be a part of something bigger than your own goals and get a sense of team spirit and competition.


couple walking through the park

Even on top of everything we’ve already aid, there’s one other useful point we haven’t; touched on yet. That’s how exercise affects your memory and makes it so much better, so it has been reported.

Recent research suggests that undertaking regular aerobic exercise is a great way to ensure that your mind stays in the best possible condition. This is because of how the brain is stimulated. You encourage new cell and blood vessel growth to keep you as sharp as you can be for longer. It happens even with moderate exercises like walking for just a couple of hours a week!

It basically means that just like everywhere else in your body, your brain is just another place to benefit from all of the work your body is doing. All of those cardiovascular benefits come together at once. Your heart, your brain and your lungs are at the forefront of it. Your brain is still physical, after all…

Overall, exercising opens up a whole range of doors to feeling better about yourself and what you are able to do. It’s worth doing for the mental benefits as well as the physical, and this is always worth keeping in mind.

Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.