Does exercise improve mental health and well-being?

Physical health from exercise and mental health are indeed, closely interconnected to your well-being. Research has consistently shown that maintaining good physical health can very much benefit mental health and well-being. 

When you find yourself in a heightened state of emotions, it can feel almost crippling and make it much harder to find the mental and physical energy and capacity to do any form of exercise. 

A lack of physical health and regular exercise can affect several aspects of your mental health and well-being including: 

  • Self-esteem: Maintaining good physical health can improve self-esteem and confidence. 
  • Sleep: Regular exercise and a healthy diet can improve sleep quality, which is essential for good mental health. Poor sleep can lead to mood disturbances, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline: Physical exercise can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older adults. Exercise promotes the growth of new brain cells and improves cognitive function.
  • Stress management: Engaging in physical activity can help reduce stress levels by providing a healthy outlet for pent-up emotions and reducing cortisol levels.

Finding a way to break that emotional barrier is where the first and largest challenge is. 

Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers that help reduce stress and anxiety. Therefore, the fewer endorphins you are releasing the more difficult it is to even start an activity.

This doesn’t mean having to find a new lust for fitness, lifting or Crossfit. All it means is adding some form of activity into your day. So if you have found yourself in a state of insolation and feeling somewhat lacklustre, you still have some options to get you started, and in this order:


Dancing can improve mood, reduce stress, and enhance self-esteem. The best thing about it is you can do it in your kitchen. Start with that song that is stuck in your head. Play it and see where the mood takes you. It may not seem like much, but this is a huge first step in upping your physical activity day-by-day.


Have you heard many times, ‘If you’re feeling down just go for a walk!’ But it’s not that easy is it? Which is why this comes second. 

Yes, a walk can improve mood, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and enhance cognitive function. However, know what you’re capable of today, and start with what you can do in the moment.

Outdoor activities can to improve mental health and well-being

Now you are out, can you find a slight incline for a hike? Or even some gardening can improve your mood, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being.

Lengthening and postural exercises 

Yoga combines physical activity with mindfulness and has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and enhance overall well-being.

Pilates focuses on not only strength and mobility, but also your spinal alignment, posture and how you carry yourself, which can affect your mood and overall outlook. Walking tall and without aches and pains will reflect your mental health in great ways. 

Aerobic exercise 

Once you are ready to work at a faster pace, activities that get your heart rate up, such as running, cycling, or swimming, have been shown to improve mood, reduce anxiety and depression, and enhance cognitive function.

It is important to note that the best physical activity or exercise for improving mental health and well-being is the one that you enjoy and are motivated to do regularly. Find an activity that you enjoy and that fits your lifestyle, and make it a regular part of your routine.

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