SHA Magazine Fitness

Seven psychological benefits of exercising.

SHA Wellness Clinic
August 10, 2023

1. You will be happier

This is not the usual gratuitous phrase to hook the reader, but a truth proven by science in many clinical trials. Cardiovascular physical activity promotes the release of endorphins, also known as the happiness hormone. Their circulation in the bloodstream causes a feeling of fullness, wellbeing, euphoria, and happiness, often compared to an orgasm.
Some studies have even shown that physical exercise can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. That is why physical activity is recommended for at least half an hour, three days a week. With that amount, your brain will benefit from the endorphin bath and your mood and quality of life will improve almost instantly. “Regular physical exercise reduces stress and anxiety by stimulating the release of endorphins, the neurotransmitters that act as natural painkillers and create a sense of wellbeing. It also improves mood by increasing serotonin and dopamine levels,” explains Cinthya Molina, Clinical Psychologist at SHA Wellness Clinic.

What does seem to be true is that physical exercise has to represent a cardiovascular effort to obtain these benefits. “Being active is not the same as a practising sport”, reminds Bruno Ribeiro, Specialist in Cognitive Development at SHA Wellness Clinic. “When you ask someone if they practice physical exercise, they often tell you that they do the 10,000 steps recommended by the WHO, meaning that they are an active person, but does not mean that they do physical exercise”. According to Ribeiro, physical exercise implies that the cardiovascular system is put above the average needed to keep the body active, the heart rate must be raised, and, for example, we should not be able to hold a conversation without being short of breath. This is a good measure of physical activity that challenges the heart. “Three times a week we should do 50 minutes of physical exercise to put the cardiovascular system a little above its normal activity,” states Professor Ribeiro, who reminds us that physical exercise is the only activity that protects us from age-related brain atrophy.

2. You will have fewer ruminative thought loops. 

If soething obsesses you and you can’t stop thinking about it, going for a run is the solution. Just the change of activity and the need to be aware of your surroundings will help you stop the rumination of obsessive thinking. After a hard day at work, or a stressful meeting, it is also a good idea to unwind by playing paddle tennis, hitting the gym or running on the beach. One of the psychological benefits of physical activity is precisely to reduce stress. Exercise also increases the production of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.

3. You will have a better opinion of yourself, as your self-esteem will soar for several reasons.

The first is the improvement of your self-image. Exercise strengthens your muscles, tones your body and if you eat healthy, you can lose a few extra pounds. From the moment you start moving, you’ll look better. Looking in the mirror and liking yourself lifts your mood and makes you think positive thoughts about your self-perception. Both will make you value yourself more. Meeting your challenges and following a discipline will change the way you think about yourself. “Achieving personal goals, overcoming challenges and improving physical performance strengthens positive self-perception,” explains Cinthya Molina, who adds that “regular physical activity has been shown to have positive effects on cognitive function and concentration. Exercise increases blood flow and oxygenation to the brain, which can improve attention, memory and overall cognitive performance.

4.You will meet new people and your social life will be activated.

Training in a group, playing in a team, going to a gym means being part of something and regaining a sense of belonging. Knowing you are part of a group makes you feel integrated and valued, especially if it is a community that shares a common hobby and lifestyle.

5. You will have more energy and boost motivation.

As you make progress, you will find it easier to achieve your goals and you will start to feel the benefits of sport. All this will increase your motivation to achieve even more difficult challenges and you will consider doing things that you thought were too difficult to do, as well as overcoming fears you previously thought were insurmountable. Basically, you will feel powerful. A winner.

6. You will achieve serenity and self-control.

Feeling satisfied, in a better mood and happier with yourself will allow you to control everyday situations that felt overwhelming to you. It will also help you sleep better – another of the benefits of regular physical activity. Losing your temper and self-control makes you feel irritable and bad about yourself. Regaining it is an important step towards regaining self-esteem.

7. It will increase your self-confidence and the confidence you project to others.  

Dedicating time to yourself and your leisure time is a sign of confidence. When you balance your life and make time to care for yourself without feeling guilty, you project an ability to plan and organise. You will be more reliable in the eyes of others.


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