The Surprising Mental Health Benefits of Regular Exercise

August 14, 2023
Filipe Bastos

Regular exercise has long been known to have physical health benefits, such as improving cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. However, research has also shown that exercise can have a significant impact on mental health. In fact, regular exercise has been shown to improve mood, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and even enhance cognitive functioning.

According to the adolescent mental health services, one of the primary ways that exercise benefits mental health is by releasing endorphins, which are natural chemicals in the brain that help to reduce pain and increase pleasure. Endorphins are often referred to as the “feel-good” chemicals, and they can help to improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exercise has also been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, which is a hormone that is released in response to stress. High levels of cortisol have been linked to a variety of negative health outcomes, including anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline.

In addition to these chemical changes, exercise can also provide a sense of accomplishment and boost self-esteem. Setting and achieving fitness goals can help individuals feel more confident and in control, which can have a positive impact on mental health. Overall, the benefits of regular exercise for mental health are numerous and significant, and should not be overlooked.

The Connection Between Exercise and Mental Health

Regular exercise has been shown to have numerous benefits for mental health. Exercise can help reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress, and improve overall mood and well-being.

One way exercise can improve mental health is by increasing the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurotransmitter that can stimulate the production of new brain cells. Both cardiorespiratory and strength training exercises can help elevate levels of BDNF, which means that these forms of exercise can have a positive impact on mental health [1].

Exercise can also stimulate blood flow to the brain, which exposes the brain to more nutrients and oxygen, as well as releasing proteins called neurons, which help keep the cells in the brain healthy [2]. That neural growth can also help improve short- and long-term memory, and provide individuals with a greater sense of cognitive clarity and focus.

Overall, the connection between exercise and mental health is a powerful one. Regular exercise has been shown to be an effective tool in combating depression, anxiety, and a variety of other mental health conditions. Whether individuals are looking to boost their mood, reduce stress, or simply improve overall well-being, exercise is a great place to start.

Physical Changes Impacting Mental Well-being

Regular exercise has numerous physical benefits that can have a significant impact on mental well-being. In this section, we will explore some of the physical changes that occur during exercise that can lead to improved mental health.

Boost in Endorphins

Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which can lead to a feeling of euphoria commonly referred to as a “runner’s high.” This boost in endorphins can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve mood, and increase feelings of well-being.

Improved Sleep Patterns

Regular exercise can help improve sleep patterns, which can have a significant impact on mental health. Exercise has been shown to increase the amount of time spent in deep sleep, which is essential for physical and mental restoration. Additionally, exercise can help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up at consistent times. To Know More About the Health Benefits of Sleeping And Waking Up Early you can visit

Enhanced Cognitive Function

Exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on cognitive function, including memory, attention, and decision-making. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which can help improve brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Additionally, exercise stimulates the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is essential for the growth and maintenance of brain cells.

Psychological Benefits of Regular Exercise

Regular exercise has numerous psychological benefits that can enhance overall mental health. Here are some of the most significant benefits:

Self-Confidence Boost

Exercise can improve self-confidence by providing a sense of accomplishment. When an individual works out, they set goals and achieve them, which leads to a sense of pride and self-worth. Additionally, regular exercise can improve physical appearance, which can also boost self-esteem and confidence.

Stress Reduction

Exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress. When an individual exercises, they release endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Endorphins can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, making it easier to manage daily stressors. Additionally, exercise provides a healthy outlet for pent-up frustration, which can also help reduce stress.

Enhanced Mood

Regular exercise has been shown to enhance mood by reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Exercise can help regulate mood by increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which are neurotransmitters that promote feelings of happiness and well-being. Additionally, exercise can provide a sense of purpose and routine, which can help individuals feel more in control of their lives.

Types of Exercises for Mental Health

Regular exercise is an effective way to improve mental health and prevent the onset of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. There are different types of exercises that can benefit mental health in different ways. Here are some of the most effective types of exercises for mental health:

Aerobic Exercises

Aerobic exercises are any type of exercise that increases heart rate and breathing rate. These exercises include running, cycling, swimming, and dancing. Aerobic exercises are effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety by increasing the production of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Aerobic exercises also help in reducing stress and improving cognitive function.

Strength Training

Strength training involves lifting weights or using resistance bands to build muscle strength and endurance. Strength training is effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety by increasing the production of endorphins. It also helps in improving self-esteem and body image, which are important factors in maintaining good mental health.


Yoga is a form of exercise that combines physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation. Yoga is effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety by promoting relaxation and reducing stress. It also helps in improving flexibility, balance, and strength.


Meditation is a mental exercise that involves focusing attention on a particular object, thought, or activity to achieve a state of mental calmness and relaxation. Meditation is effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety by promoting relaxation and reducing stress. It also helps in improving focus and concentration.


Regular exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health. Studies have found that physical activity can improve mood, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and boost self-esteem.

While the exact mechanism behind the mental health benefits of exercise is not fully understood, it is believed that physical activity may help regulate neurotransmitters, reduce inflammation, and increase the production of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters.

It is important to note that exercise should not be seen as a replacement for professional treatment for mental health disorders. However, it can be a valuable addition to a comprehensive treatment plan. Encouraging individuals to engage in regular physical activity may help improve their overall mental health and well-being.

Mindowl Weekly

Sign up to our free weekly newsletter, to have early access to new articles on Meditation, Psychology and Breathwork.  Enter your email to subscribe – emails are limited to one a week and your address will not be shared with anyone else.

Check our YouTube Channel:


When we feel happy for others, it creates a positive feedback loop of happiness that touches not jus...


The four Stoic virtues, wisdom, justice, courage, and temperance, can help you become a better perso...


In this video, we explore the concept of equanimity and its importance in meditation. Equanimity is ...


Are you looking for a way to calm your mind and focus? Trataka meditation might be the answer for yo...


When negative emotions arise in our minds – it could have been brought on by a stressful activity,...


We've all been there. Somebody does something that we don't like and our first instinct is to react ...


There are some things in life that we can't control. We may not be able to change the situation, but...


Do you want to know how to develop emotional maturity? In this video, we will be discussing three si...

Follow us on Instagram:



Go beyond the meditation app!
Free resources:

A little reminder that kindness is contagious. ✨

#quotesaboutlife #mindfulquotes #practicemindfulness #bekind #bekindtoyourmind #dogoodfeelgood #realhappiness #selfempowerment #mindfulmovement #intentionalliving #mentalhealthquote #peacefulness
Our greatest moments, memories, and experiences aren’t defined by their magnitude or greatness, but by the people who fill them and give them life. ✨

#findingyourself #bekindtoyourmind #mindfulquote #mindfulmoment #positivepsychology #dailycalm #practicemindfulness #calmthemind #innerwork #realhappiness #selfacceptance #findingyourself #mentalhealthjourney #mensmentalhealth
You are exactly where you're meant to be. 💚

#mindandbody #mensmentalhealth #mindfulmovement #keepbreathing #practicemindfulness #mindfulnessmoment #livinginthemoment #bekindtoyourmind #mentalhealthjourney #dailycalm #groundyourself #livemindfully
With rising temperatures, worrisome droughts, and looming environmental issues, it’s perfectly normal to feel sad, anxious, angry, and powerless. 😔

In times like this, mindfulness and self-awareness can be crucial in your ability to cope with fear. Here are 3 tips to help manage your climate anxiety:

🌍 Practice acceptance, not denial - accept you can't change the world on your own, only your tiny role within it
🌍 Try not to feel responsible for others - concentrate on your own journey.
🌍 Reduce your carbon footprint - take pride in lifestyle changes that you make. 

#mindandbody #practicemindfulness #dailycalm #mensmentalhealth #climateaction #cleanplanet #believeinbetter #groundyourself #livemindfully #mindfulnessmoment #keepbreathing #selfempowerment #peaceofmind #mindfultip #calmthemind #mentalhealthjourney
The greatest challenges we experience are often also our greatest teachers. 

If you’re repeatedly experiencing the same challenge, know that it is there not to push you down or hold you back, but to teach and strengthen you. 💪

#mindfulquotes #selfawareness #innerstrength #mensmentalhealth #innerwork #selfempowerment #peaceofmind #mindfulliving #mindfulmoment #practicemindfulness #findingyourself #reducestress
Fear is often the thing that holds us back most from developing a deeper self-knowledge and awareness in our lives:

🌖 We fear being vulnerable.
🌗 We fear change.
🌘 We fear the truth.
🌑 We fear being wrong.

In moments that you feel fear creeping up on you, or notice it holding you back, take a moment to question your fear and ask yourself if your fear is truly serving you.

If you're interested in reading more on self-awareness and fear, check out last week's article on our blog. 🦉

#selfempowerment #peaceofmind #mensmentalhealth #findingyourself #practicemindfulness #peacefulness #calmthemind #innerwork #quietthemind #dealingwithanxiety #keepbreathing  #positivepsychology #dailycalm


Keep on reading

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s not uncommon to find ourselves constantly in “survival mode.”  This term describes a state of heightened stress and alertness, often triggered by various life challenges and demands. While survival mode can be a useful response to imminent danger, it can also become a chronic state

Read More

Ever found yourself wondering why people resort to sarcasm? Sarcasm, originating from the Greek word ‘sarcazein’ meaning ‘to tear flesh,’ is often used in conversations as a form of humour or criticism. This blog aims to delve into the psychology behind this wit and its effects on communication and relationships, providing you insights into why

Read More

Feeling overwhelmed by emotions in certain situations can be exhausting. It is estimated that one in five people are naturally more sensitive than others, but this doesn’t mean we have to let our feelings run riot. This article will equip you with a toolkit of techniques and strategies to cope better in

Read More
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}