Exercise and Mental Health – The Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health

Exercise plays a large part in physical and mental health. Getting up and active can have some great benefits for your general wellbeing, and luckily, you don’t have to start a rigorous training plan. Instead, small amounts of activity, from taking the stairs to walking to the bus stop, can help.

The Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health

Exercise is shown to have many benefits including energy increase, self-esteem boost, better sleep, promoting relaxation, and stronger resilience. One of the biggest advantages of exercise is the stimulation of chemicals in the brain which can promote growth of new brain cells, prevent age related cognitive decline and aid concentration. Exercise releases endorphins, the so-called “feel good” chemical, known for boosting moods.

This is not to say exercise will solve any mental health symptoms. Instead, exercise is likely to alleviate some of the symptoms, even if only for a short while. If you are concerned about your wellbeing, speak to a professional.

Here are some specific ways in which exercise benefits mental health:

Exercise and Depression

Exercise can be prescribed as treatment by GPs for a variety of conditions including mild to moderate depression. Alternative treatments include medication or psychological therapy. Through exercising, it has been found changes in the brain occur such as activity patterns promoting feelings of calm and well-being. Additionally, the release of endorphins from exercise is known to elevate moods.

Exercise and Anxiety

Exercise relieves tension and stress as well as boosts physical energy. When experiencing feelings of anxiety, exercising can be a good way to lessen stress, not through distracting oneself, but through focussing on the body and its power. Focus on sensation of feet hitting the ground, breathing patters, and how the body is moving. Exercise can generally help increase mindfulness and allow one to regain control.

Exercise and ADHD

Those who experience ADHD may benefit from exercising to reduce symptoms. Getting active can improve concentration, motivation and memory as well as boost the brain chemicals dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, all affecting focus and attention.

Exercise and Physical Health

If suffering from physical aliments, exercise can help. Exercising can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and many other health issues. Through sustained active changes towards physical health, mental health will likely improve too.

See more: Walking for Weight Loss

If you haven’t exercised in a while or have health conditions, check with your doctor before beginning. Take care to avoid injury or negative emotional responses to exercise. Short term endorphins may feel good, but exercise must be regular for longer term effects to take hold.

Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health – How to Get Started

As aforementioned, don’t jump straight into vigorous exercise. Here are some top tips for getting started with exercising.


Having a routine can help sleep and eating patterns, as well as ensure you stick to your exercise. The government advises adults do 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week – as simple as a 25 minute walk each day. Maybe make walking the children to and from school part of your routine. Or a morning jog. Or an evening cycle class three times a week. Find a way to fit exercise around your life.

Start Small

There is little point in setting unattainable goals and giving up at the first hurdle. Instead set manageable goals that may still slightly challenge and motivate you. Why not try a monthly challenge? You can choose from a range of goal distances and complete it over the course of a month at your own pace.

See more: Benefits of Virtual Challenges

Enjoy Exercise

Try a few different methods of exercise including classes, swimming, and team sport to see what you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, you are less likely to continue exercising. Even gardening or walking the dog counts!

Exercise with Friends

Exercising with a friend, or multiple, has many benefits! Whether you are nervous to go alone, feel motivated by someone else, or simply fancy having a chat while you exercise, having someone else there is great. Read our blog post about the benefits of exercising with a friend to find out more.

Get Comfortable

If you don’t feel comfortable going to a gym, work out somewhere else – there are plenty of ways to get fit without a gym. If you want to wear certain clothes, to feel comfortable, wear them. Take steps that make you feel at ease, so you feel happy exercising.

Go Outside

If possible, exercise outside from time to time. Evidence suggests doing physical activity in an outdoor/green environment has greater positive effects on wellbeing compared to activity indoors. Grab a friend, your dog, or just your music and head to your local park, you may be surprised how good it is.

Race At Your Pace Success Stories

Check out Race At Your Pace success stories to see the positive benefit exercise can have on people. These stories highlight how setting a goal helped motivate and push participants to reach new goals, and how willing they now are to reach higher goals!

Through regular exercise and sticking to monthly goals, these people successfully finished their challenge. Not only do they now have a shiny medal to show for their efforts, they also have a great sense of pride and self-belief.

Interested in participating in a Race At Your Pace monthly challenge? Read our testimonials from participants who have been rewarded the benefits of exercising.

Exercise with Race At Your Pace

If you are looking to start exercising regularly, or want to reap all the benefits of getting active, why not take part in a Race At Your Pace monthly challenge? Designed to fit around your life so you can complete them as you wish, our monthly challenges are flexible and ideal for a variety of participants.

Choose your challenge, complete your distance over a month, submit your evidence, and receive your medal – then do it all again next month?! Find out how it works here. Get inspired to exercise and fall in love with getting out and active.

See more: Swimming Challenges for Beginners

See more: Walking for Weight Loss

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