If you’ve ever been to Burbank Fitness Club, you know fitness feels good. But do you know why? Here are the surprising mental health benefits of regular exercise.
At BFC, Fitness Feels Good
4 Mental Health Benefits of Regular Exercise
If you’ve ever looked into the mental health benefits of regular exercise, then you know every workout helps release endorphins – the hormones that stimulate happiness and relaxation. While this very phenomenon is the subject of extensive study, it’s only one piece of evidence in a growing body of work that suggests regular exercise is as powerful as an antidepressant when it comes to our mental health and emotional wellbeing. Here are the latest studies explaining the mental health benefits of regular exercise:
- Reduce Chronic Stress
Regular exercise makes your body more resilient when responding to stressful events. “Research shows that while exercise initially spikes the stress response in the body, people experience lower levels of stress hormones, like cortisol and epinephrine, after bouts of physical activity,” says the American Psychological Association. That means exercise is giving your body the chance to regularly practice managing stress – in a safe, healthy environment. It forces the body’s physiological systems to work together in the daily battle against stress, building up your “stress response muscle.”
- Alleviate Depression
More and more studies are proving that exercise can be used as a vital tool in the treatment of depression. Dr. James Blumenthal, a clinical psychologist at Duke University, conducted a study of adults diagnosed with major depressive disorder, splitting them into four groups: supervised exercise, home-based exercise, antidepressant therapy or a placebo pill. All groups except the placebo pill group showed remission from depression. From the results, Dr. Blumenthal concluded exercise was generally comparable to antidepressants in the treatment of depression.
- Alleviate Anxiety
Exercise doesn’t just help fight the blues; it’s also particularly helpful with anxiety and panic attacks. “When you engage in strenuous physical activity, you’re essentially mimicking the responses that can come with anxiety, allowing you to learn how to manage these responses and not be overwhelmed by them in other situations,” says the American Psychological Association.
- Boost Brain Health
Exercise does more than just boost your mood – it also boosts your brain health, too. One study followed groups of rodents, some who exercised and some who didn’t. After 30 days, the rodents that exercised regularly had a better blood supply to their brains, while a group of sedentary rats showed no increase. “An increased blood supply means increased oxygen and energy supply, and that equals better performance,” the APA says. Other studies have suggested exercise enhances cognitive processes like thinking and memory, attention span and perception.
Need A Mental Health Booster? Lean On Your Community
Being part of a community feels good for a reason: It actually makes you healthier. When it comes to mental health, it doesn’t get much better than a happy, connected fitness community. Here’s why:
- Working out together is more powerful than working out alone.
A recent study proved group fitness creates a significantly larger impact on quality of life than working out alone. The study followed two groups – group fitness participants and solo participants – and measured their increase in physical, mental and emotional quality of life, as well as their reduction in stress. The group fitness participants saw a statistically significant decrease in stress and an increase in all three areas of life. Conversely, the participants who worked out alone saw a smaller decrease in stress and only reported an increase in physical and mental health.
- We adopt the behaviors of those around us.
If you hang out with healthy people, you’ll begin to take healthier actions. A study from the Journal of Social Sciences shows that we begin to adopt the healthy behaviors of the people we spend more time with. It’s reported that people lose more weight when they spend more time with physically fit friends. To a certain degree, our behaviors are contagious. So if you want to feel better, physically and mentally, a fitness community is as good as it gets!
- A good fitness community helps you chill out and have more fun!
One study from the International Journal of Stress Management found that simply sitting next to a friend on a stationary bike for 30 minutes made participants feel calmer than working out alone. Companionship helps pass the time, making those long workouts feel faster and easier. Plus it’s just more fun. In a recent survey, most people reported that they have more fun when they workout with a spouse, co-worker, friend or fellow gym member. And we bet anyone who’s been to Burbank Fitness Club knows that’s the truth!