Positive Effects of Exercise on Mental Health, By Guest Blogger Ruaan Nel

Positive Effects of Exercise on Mental Health

By Ruaan Nel

Photo by Kobby Mendez
on Unsplash

Mental health issues are on the rise, especially amongst teens. As a person who’s passionate about fitness and well-being, I wanted to share some of the ways physical activity is important to your mental health. 

Boosts ‘happy chemicals’. Exercise leads to the release of endorphins, creating a feeling of happiness. Studies reveal that exercising can even help relieve depression symptoms

Nurtures self-esteem.Physical fitness can also help build self-esteem while promoting  positive body image. It helps to set goals, because when you reach those goals there’s that euphoric sense of accomplishment that helps further nurture self-confidence.

Eases anxiety.A brisk walk or short jog can help ease symptoms of anxiety. I notice being outdoors helps, greatly—having things to look at takes my mind off things weighing on my mind, reducing stress.   

Improves sleep. For some individuals, a moderate workout session can have a significant positive impact on the quality of sleep, and improved sleep hygiene is an important part of taking care of your mental health.  

So where can you start? If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thought of exercise and experiencing low levels of energy and motivation—start small. Even 10-15 minutes of exercise can help. Find activities that align with you. It’s ok if you prefer taking a walk outside versus gym-time or classes. That’s the beauty of exercise—you can tailor your fitness routine(s) to meet your individual needs. 

Similarly, what works for you might not help someone else, so it’s important to be mindful of our differences. Also, be gentle with yourself if you have to modify your plans along the way. If you’re still not sure where to start, there are guidelines by age for the recommended amount of regular physical activity.

In my personal fitness and mental wellness journey, adopting and adapting my physically active lifestyle through the years has positively impacted my mental health in more ways than I can count. Exercise is my go-to when it comes to alleviating stress and relieving anxiety. I hope that in writing this blog, I’ve peaked your interest in finding ways to incorporate exercise in your day-to-day. My goal in sharing some of the ways exercise positively effects mental health is to help other people, especially young adults, who may just be starting to figure out how and where exercise fits into their daily routines.

If you need support now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or, text “HOME” to 741- 741 to get help 24/7 from the Crisis Text Line. 

If you or someone you know needs help, visit the Jordan Porco Foundation’s resources page. 

The opinions expressed in this blog are personal, and not those of the Jordan Porco Foundation. The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as mental health advice from the individual author or the Jordan Porco Foundation. You should consult a mental health professional for advice regarding your individual situation. 

Ruaan Nel is an Electrical Engineer living in Oslo, Norway. He is the owner of fitnesspurity.com, loves powerlifting, exercise equipment, workout routines, and staying fit.