How Physical Activity Improves Your Mental Health

Learn more about the many positive impacts of regular exercising.

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Triggered by the desire to show off a lean and healthy body, we devote long hours to exercising in the gym, at home or outdoors. What we do not often realize is that while working on our mere appearance, we also improve our wellbeing, mood and brain power.

So, how exactly does regular exercising change the way we feel, learn, perceive ourselves and bond with others?

#Move over, stress

To begin with, exercising has been found to cut down stress levels. It not only allows us to distract ourselves from daily mishaps but also helps the brain deal with anxiety. It does so by stimulating the production of endorphin, which is known to cope with stress and depression. Workouts can even cheer us up. Rugby, hiking, dancing, volleyball – whatever the activity, it will release a lot of happy hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin, which lift your spirits before you know it! Next time you are feeling down in the dumps, lose the comfort junk food and go for a run instead. Combining the outdoors with some good music coming from your earphones can do miracles for your wellbeing.

#A good night’s sleep

Regular physical activity also improves our sleeping patterns significantly. Sleeping habits change for the better – we manage to fall asleep quicker and deeper. Opening our eyes on the next day, we will definitely feel more energized, rested and even prettier. We say “Sleeping Beauty” for a reason, don’t we? 

#Work that brain

Not surprisingly, exercising greatly boosts our learning abilities. Participation in sports develops our problem-solving and decision-making skills, reduces concentration difficulties, and allows us to memorize things faster. Scientifically speaking, regular physical activity stimulates the formation of new brain cells (neurogenesis), which in turn enhance the performance of the brain.

#Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most confident of them all?

Let’s also consider the positive impacts of exercising on our self-esteem. The positive impacts are not solely connected to losing weight and feeling more confident while staring at yourself in the mirror; in addition, we emphasize on the small, but important victories one accomplishes by engaging with sports. Every time we experience the satisfaction of lifting the heavier dumbbells or running that extra mile, we create a far more optimistic outlook on ourselves.

#Not a solo game

Last, but not least, physical activity improves our mental health by allowing us to work on our interpersonal skills. Meeting people in yoga classes or calling friends for a game of soccer are all a crucial part of our socialization. Meeting and communicating with people who share your passion for sports is invaluable. And the best thing, in this case, is that the laws of math do not seem to work – sharing the joy of exercising with someone else does not mean there will be less for you!

As it turns out, the benefits of exercising regularly successfully go beyond the mere appearance and make their way to our beautiful brains. Did you think “a healthy mind in a healthy body” is just a cliché? Well, it’s high time you proved yourself wrong!

Written by Stela Hristova

Do you want to learn more about the impacts of regular physical activity? Read this to find out more about your body changes once you start exercising.

Download Our FREE
Spartan Race Training Plan
Our comprehensive training plan provides you with 30-days of exercises right up to race day!
Download e-Book


Lilla Laczo

Lilla is a content writer and community manager at Shape.


    1. Glad you liked it! And do spread the word of the fantastic effects regular workouts have on our inner and outer selves!

    1. Hello Antoine, I’m so happy you found the article true to yourself. Team sports will always be a passion of mine – team spirit and sense of belongingness are irreplaceable. Hope your favourite collective sport brings you much of both!

  1. Thank you, Milena! Home workouts are a wonderful way to begin your day. But do not forget about the tempting sunshine that reminds us to go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air 🙂

  2. Very useful info ! I guess some more sleep would be really good for my health. I definitely need the energy. 😀

  3. After reading about the benefits of sport on the function of the brain,I will consider taking up something interesting. Maybe with my daughter we could try out some collective sports . 🙂

    1. Hey Denica, so happy you enjoyed the article! What a good example to your daughter would that be! I hope you find the sport that bonds you and makes both of you feel energised and happy! 🙂

  4. Now as I’ve read this article I would really pay more attention to my lifestyle and how healthy it is. I found some very useful information!

    1. Hello Chudomir, this is what the article is all about – educating yourself and reconsidering your lifestyle choices! I am extremely happy you found it helpful!

  5. Thank you for pinpointing the variety of benefits from working out! Reading about it makes me more motivated to start a healthy lifestyle.

    1. Hello Zlatina, I am so happy reading this article has influenced you positively! I hope you will soon see the benefits of regular exercising for yourself 🙂

    1. Hello Michelle, it makes me more than happy to know that you know how to reap the benefits of regular physical activity. Keep it up!

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Download Our FREE
Spartan Race Training Plan
Our comprehensive training plan provides you with 30-days of exercises right up to race day!
Download e-Book