5 Ways regular exercise keeps your mind fit

If you're looking to improve your fitness then exercise is obviously the way to go. But did you know that the effects it has on the mind are significant too?

By Jeremy Jauncey

In a world where we are often too busy and stressed to even think about exercise, we often overlook the great mental benefits that working out regularly can have. It’s not about spending every evening in the gym—it’s about finding that sustainable balance which will allow you to stay active and healthy long term, allowing you to reap both the physical and mental benefits.

Jeremy Jauncey, CEO of Beautiful Destinations, the world’s largest tourism community on social media, is an expert when it comes to balancing his extremely hectic lifestyle with travel and fitness. To always get a workout in on the go, wherever in the world he may be, he’s a long-time user of the bodyweight-only workout app Freeletics. To highlight how working out does just as much for your brain as your body, Jeremy and Freeletics share five major mental benefits of exercise.

 

1. It boosts your mood

“Exercise is just what you need if you’re looking for some positive vibes. Whether it’s just the pure pride and satisfaction after a workout or the growing confidence in your own capabilities, chances are you have experienced a happiness high after exercising. It’s proven and the science goes much deeper than just feeling pleased with yourself”, Jeremy Jauncey explains

During a workout, so-called “happiness hormones” are released, such as endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. These fill you with feelings of positivity and happiness. The release of serotonin, for example, leads to a feeling of inner satisfaction, while endorphins leave you feeling happier.

2. It increases your focus

“Exercising regularly, especially through more complex movements such as burpees, can increase your focus over time. Directly after a workout, you will feel more alert and focused for up to two to three hours afterwards,” according to Jeremy. 

And if you make exercise a regular part of your schedule, you’ll find the results last longer too. This is because exercise promotes neuroplasticity, which enhances your cognitive function. 

“So over time, you’ll have a higher ability to concentrate and stay focused while completing tasks if you exercise regularly.”

 

3. It helps reduce stress

“For me personally, stress is never a reason not to exercise. It’s the opposite. If you’re feeling stressed, I guarantee those feelings will disappear after a good workout,” Jeremy promises. 

Exercise is a very effective stress reliever, also due to the hormones, dopamine, serotonin and endorphins released in the body as a result. These help combat the level of the “stress hormone” cortisol, which is important, as cortisol influences the metabolism, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish.

 

4. It improves your memory

“According to a study by the University of British Columbia, regular cardio exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus. This is the part of the brain that is important for learning and verbal memory. Combine this with the fact that exercise improves your mood, reduces stress and regulates your sleep cycle, which all contribute to better cognitive function, and there’s no reason not to get your workout gear on,” Jeremy urges. 

Why does exercise affect the brain in a direct way? Because it can reduce inflammation, increase blood flow and stimulate the release of chemicals which help grow new blood vessels in the brain. It can even help with keeping the number of brain cells from decreasing.

 

5. It increases your sense of self-worth

“In my opinion, this one is extremely important and often overlooked,” Jeremy explains. “When you start setting and achieving goals, this gives you a great mindset, a feeling of achievement. This will also boost your confidence to continue setting and pursuing goals, and not just in a fitness setting. This increase in self-belief and self-worth is vital for mental health and a positive image of one’s self. Everyone deserves to know self-esteem and to be confident in themselves and their abilities.”

So, it is clear to see that there are many different benefits regular exercise can have across the board. With these direct and indirect benefits for the mind, there now shouldn’t be any excuse not to start now and lead an active, balanced life.

Follow Jeremy on Instagram or visit the Freeletics website.