7 mental health benefits of exercise


(BPT) - Exercise is much more than just cardio and weights. You may not realize that as you're working up a sweat, you're taking a load off your mind, too. Many people face the nagging effects of everyday stress and pressure that impact mental health and overall well-being but fortunately, some of that can be alleviated by working out. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which is the perfect time to refocus on your mind, body and movement.

Self-care and focusing on your mental health is particularly important in a post-pandemic world. According to a recent study by the American Psychiatric Association, more than 75% of adults in the U.S. said they've experienced stress in the prior month. The majority of those said health and finances were among their top sources of stress, contributing to symptoms like headache, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, sleep disorders and more.

As a leader in health and wellness, Planet Fitness is sharing some important mental health benefits that anyone can get from moving their body and exercising:

Mood boost. Aerobic exercise leads to an increase in levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, chemicals that regulate your mood and focus, according to Neuroscience News.

Increase in brain function. Neuroscience News also reports exercise promotes brain plasticity, the ability to form new neural connections. This is especially helpful in counteracting the cognitive decline that comes with age. Forgot where you put your keys? Some cardio throughout the week may help with that.

Relax of stress hormones. Exercise helps regulate cortisol and adrenaline, two stress hormones. By pumping up your feel-good endorphins, the Mayo Clinic says exercise improves your sense of well-being.

Better sleep. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health to your step-counting coworker will tell you that exercise helps you sleep better. Whether the evidence is anecdotal or gleaned from a health-industry study, it's clear that getting a good workout will lead to better sleep in both duration and quality. When you sleep better, you have more energy throughout the day to accomplish tasks, complete your checklist or even prep for your next workout.

Confidence booster. When you move your body, you feel good about yourself! You’ll find yourself getting stronger, walking farther, running faster, or even lifting heavier weights than you could before. This feeling sends your confidence through the roof and that sense of accomplishment and self-esteem will have you walking on air for the rest of the day.

Post-workout relaxation. After your workout, give those muscles some self-care. With Planet Fitness's PF Black Card® Membership, you'll get access to everything Planet Fitness has to offer, including HydroMassage loungers, massage chairs, Total Body Enhancement machines, discounts on cooler drinks, and the ability to bring a friend with you every time you work out. Rest and recovery are an integral part of your workout routine and your overall mental wellness.

Social connections. Going to the gym regularly, connecting with other members or certified fitness trainers (a perk offered to all Planet Fitness members) or just seeing the same folks every workout will increase your social connections and help relieve stress and feelings of sadness and loneliness.

If you haven't been to the gym in a while and feel a bit intimidated, Planet Fitness is the perfect place to enjoy a high-quality fitness experience in a welcoming, non-intimidating environment known as the Judgement Free Zone®. With the main causes of stress being health and finances, Planet Fitness can help you get a great workout that will impact your mental health without breaking the bank. Check out all the Judgement Free Zone® has to offer this Mental Health Awareness Month and focus on YOU.