10 Things to Know About the Psychology of Exercise

When speaking about exercise, the physical side of the activity is often discussed first. Exercising regularly has a long list of physical benefits. People may exercise their bodies for weight loss, cardiovascular health, increasing their endurance, gaining muscles, and so much more. But what about the psychological side? Studies have shown that exercising on a regular basis may affect how we are on the inside just as much as on the outside. Exercising can improve moods, emotional states, and our overall quality of life! Pretty amazing, right? Here are 10 things to know about the psychology of exercise… 

We may get in our own way when it comes to exercise.

We all understand to some extent that exercising is good for us. If this is the case, why is it so hard for us to do it? Why is it so hard for us to commit to exercising when we know what the benefits are? Well for starters, it’s intimidating! Exercising requires a commitment to at least a few days a week. If we don’t add exercising into our daily or weekly routines, we may not see any of the benefits. Exercising can also be intimidating because if we are out of practice, our endurance is low and we get sore afterwards. While the soreness doesn’t last long and the only way to increase endurance is to push through, it may deter some people. Another factor when it comes to getting in our own way is confidence. Some people just don’t know where to start and don’t feel comfortable going to the gym or asking for help. 

Exercising may improve your mood.

Exercise is one of the best ways to smile! Exercise releases serotonin, a chemical in our brains, that improves our mood. Serotonin is one of the key hormones when it comes to stabilizing our mood, feelings, and happiness levels. Because serotonin impacts the whole body, frequently releasing the hormone can greatly improve our overall well being. Releasing serotonin in order to improve our mood may be easier than most people think. Simply exercising for 30 minutes a few days a week can lead to a healthy and stable life for people of all ages. 

Exercising can reduce stress levels and how we deal with stress. 

Similar to how exercising can improve our mood, it can also help us manage our stress. Other chemicals that are released in our brains during exercise are endorphins. Endorphins help make us happy by reducing our stress levels as well as allowing us to cope with any stress. Releasing endorphins also reduces feelings associated with pain. According to experts, we feel the pleasure from endorphins being released in our brains due to that increased dopamine production that occurs at the same time. Exercising also reduces the level of hormones related to stress in our bodies. These hormones include adrenaline and cortisol. 

Having a daily routine may affect your life in more ways than you think!

Most experts agree that creating to-do lists and following routines is very good for our mental health. Making exercise a priority in your day to day life will likely have you reworking your schedule to make everything fit. Factors such as children, weather, work schedules, classes, school work, gym hours, and more may have you creating a routine based around your exercise. If we look at how exercise benefits us psychologically, we can see how this is good for us. Adding exercise to your daily or weekly routine can also improve sleeping habits, help with memory and thinking skills, increase energy throughout your days, and more. 

Regularly exercising may affect your self esteem.

Another way that exercising affects us psychologically is our self esteem. Regularly exercising may help us have higher self esteem for many reasons. When we exercise and take care of our body, we are committing to self care. Our mind, body, and soul are all affected. Exercising and leading a healthy life makes us physically stronger, too. This can promote confidence in our body image by making us feel strong, confident, beautiful, and powerful. Depending on the level and intensity of the exercise you do, there may be goals you wish to accomplish too. Even the smallest of exercise goals can make us feel accomplished and successful. 

Exercise can aid in treating many mental disorders.

It is pretty remarkable how even the slightest bit of daily exercise can change someone’s life. As we mentioned above, exercise can improve mood and stress levels. But did you know it can reduce the symptoms of mental disorders too? Finding time to exercise often can relieve many of the symptoms associated with:

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  • depression
  • anxiety
  • social withdrawal
  • schizophrenia, and more

People who struggle with eating disorders may find relief from their symptoms through exercise as well. Additionally, many necessary medicines for mental disorders have a side effect of weight gain. Exercising regularly can help manage this to avoid obesity. 

Exercise means energy!

Regularly exercising is one of the best ways to boost your energy levels. Studies have shown that people who complete some sort of exercise each day can battle fatigue naturally and pretty easily! This may be as little as 20 minutes of exercise for as little as 3 days a week. Pretty impressive, right? Not only does exercising increase your energy, it also helps you hit that pillow at night with ease. Falling asleep fast and having a good quality rest will help you feel energized and refreshed in the morning. 

There are lifestyle choices that can make consistent exercise easier.

Sometimes it is hard to get our bodies moving. We may get busy with work or school. Our kids may make it hard to commit to a workout class. We may be intimidated after an injury, or we may just not naturally desire exercise and movement. In situations such as these, there are some lifestyle changes and choices that can make consistent exercise easier. These may include:

  • owning a dog
  • signing up for a gym membership
  • living in an apartment complex with a gym
  • living or working near a park or hiking area
  • keeping workout gear out in the open
  • buying workout apparel
  • finding friends who enjoy exercise
  • hiring a personal trainer

Sometimes we may have to put things in our lives that we know will ultimately be good for us!

Exercising may help anxiety more than most of us realize!

As briefly mentioned above, exercise can help alleviate the symptoms associated with some mental disorders. Anxiety is one of these disorders but there may be a little more to it! Many psychologists believe that exercising can help people have a stable mindset. This means that when situations that normally induce panic or anxiety arise, they feel better equipped to handle it. 

For many people who suffer from anxiety, the body undergoes a fight or flight response when it feels threatened. The body’s nervous systems reacts very quickly and they may start to sweat, get dizzy, and feel their heart race. Many experts are beginning to experiment with this in terms of exercise! Studies have shown that people who are prone to anxiety and panic attacks like this may be better equipped to handle the feelings of fight or flight if they are regularly exercising and taking care of themselves. 

Consistent exercise affects us differently than scattered exercise. 

While no exercise is bad exercise, you may not reap all of the mental health benefits of moving your body each time you go for a walk. If you are feeling stressed and need to take a breather, a walk is likely your best medicine. If you have a long day ahead of you, scheduling in some body movement will likely keep you from getting fatigued. However, in order to sustain the benefits such as an overall improved mood, decreased feelings of depression and anxiety, a better sleep schedule, and less stress, exercising may need to happen consistently. 

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