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5 Mental Benefits of Exercise

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We all associate exercise with weight loss or building muscles, but the mental benefits may far out weigh the physical! In our high stress society, exercise can help us not only de-stress & feel happy, but can also help us with social anxieties. Here are 5 amazing metal benefits of exercise!

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Happiness and fitness–two sides of the same coin?

1. Stress relief. It is #1 for a reason!!! Exercise is a natural de-stressor and in our high stress society, we need to be exercising more than ever. Exercise decreases cortisol, a stress hormone that increases belly fat, while increasing endorphins to help us feel good! The days you feel like there is a heavy weight on your shoulders or there is just too much going on around you, go for a run or lift some weights, just get moving! It will reduce your stress level and give you a beautifully fit body! Exercise is a wonderful way to naturally clear your mind and let go of daily stress, without the awful side effects of medications!

2. Improves your self-confidence. That’s right, working out regularly, no matter what weight or size you are, will help you feel better about yourself. Watching your body transform, or reach fitness goals feels amazing! You will not only want to continue taking great care of your body, but you will appreciate it so much more. As a fitness professional, I have seen this with my own eyes. The shy girl who didn’t feel very good about herself, would transform into a beautiful, confident, woman! Exercise is a powerful confidence booster: it allows you to see past the flaws, and focus on what your body can really do if you set your mind to it. It will make you proud to be in your own skin!

3. Makes you happy. Endorphins are the body’s natural feel good chemicals, and when they are released through exercise, your mood is boosted naturally. When endorphins are released they can give the feeling of euphoria and overall well being. Just 10 minutes of exercise a day is enough to improve your mood, though, 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity is highly recommended!

4. Reduces anxiety. Anxiety has become a major problem in our fast paced culture, with people working more hours indoors, and spending less time being physically active. Exercise can be the answer for those who struggle with anxiety. When we are physically active, we breathe deeper and more frequently, allowing us to calm down and we get oxygen rich blood flowing to the brain. Don’t forget about the ‘happy’ hormones we release while we are active! Going for a long run, or taking a yoga class will help you relax and clear your head! Exercise is the best therapy out there…and is often free!

5. Become more social & outgoing! Being shy or anti-social can be very lonely, and meeting new people can be tough. No need for those awkward moments at crowded bars & night clubs, hit the gym. Exercise is a great tool for meeting people and becoming a social butterfly! Most gyms will offer small group training or classes which are great for meeting like-minded people. Even while running on the treadmill or spinning away on a bike, there is always opportunity to strike up a conversation! I have met some amazing people at the gym, it is a place where you can truly be yourself, no need for fancy clothes or make-up! Before you know it, you will be a part of a ‘fit family’ and won’t want to miss your weekly fitness session!

Exercise is an incredible thing, it can transform your body and get you feeling confident at the same time. The mental benefits of exercise are equally as important as the physical. Taking the time to run, walk, or lift weights will improve your mood and make you feel happy…and who doesn’t want that!

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Photo: 123rf

Ewa Johnson
Ewa Johnson is the founder of the Naturally Fit & Healthy Blog. She is a Personal Trainer, a Vegan Health Educator, and a mom to a wonderful little boy! She can be found blogging, hiking, getting creative in the kitchen, or working at the local gym!
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